Can Many Clouds complete historic Grand National double?
David Metcalf | March 29, 2016
Many Clouds hoping to fly high again in Grand National
Many Clouds has been a long-time ante post favourite with Coral to win the 2016 Crabbies’ Grand National on Saturday, April 9th, and become the first horse since the mighty Red Rum in 1973/74 to land back-to-back successes in the Aintree spectacular.
Is Oliver Sherwood’s gelding a worthy market leader to do so, though? Many Clouds put in a mighty display in last year’s contest under a welter weight of 11st 9lb when when jumping for fun and beating Saint Are by 1 3/4 lengths.
It was a stunning performance of agility, guts and tenacity, and Many Clouds has looked better than ever this season.
Although not at his best when a well-beaten sixth to Cue Card when returning to action in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, the nine-year-old showed that run to be all wrong when runner-up to Don Poli at Aintree in the Lotto Chase.
Form extremely strong
Many Clouds kept on well to be beaten four lengths, and it was a fine effort in attempting to give the subsequent Lexus Chase winner and Cheltenham Gold Cup third 5lb.
It is top class rock solid form, and Many Clouds has since gone on to finish a fine second to Smad Place in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham before sauntering to a 10-length success at Kelso when last seen in action.
The son of Cloudings ran his rivals ragged in the latter and won easing down. It was the perfect prep for the National, and Many Clouds goes into this year’s renewal having been tuned to perfection by Sherwood.
Given a big chance by the handicapper
Phil Smith, the handicapper who is allowed to frame the weights himself for the big race and allot more to horses with Aintree form should he see fit, has also been very kind. He has decided that Many Clouds will have to carry 11st 10lb, a single pound heavier than last year.
That is an astonishing decision and gives Many Clouds outstanding claims at the weights. His run behind Don Poli at Aintree marks him out as the class act in the race, and Smith was clearly keen to give him every chance to try and retain his crown.
Many Clouds is undeniably well-treated and it could be argued that he should be carrying a full 12st rather than 4lb less.
Jockey and owner have Midas touch
Another plus is that he will once again have the services of Leighton Aspell in the saddle.
Aspell is bidding for a hat-trick of successes in the extended 4m 3f contest, having previously partnered Pineau De Re to victory in 2014, and clearly rides the track extremely well, proving a perfect judge of the pace in what is always a frenetically run affair.
Many Clouds is also owned by Trevor Hemmings, who has seen his famous green, yellow and white colours carried to victory in the National three times.
Hedgehunter secured Hemmings his first success in 2005, and Ballabriggs won the race in 2007. He has clearly been very lucky, and good fortune is something that you need on your side in the National.
Profile looks perfect
So, in conclusion, there is nothing not to like about Many Clouds’ profile ahead of the world’s most famous steeplechase.
He is well-handicapped and has been given the perfect prep by connections and trainer Sherwood.
When the tape goes up at 17:15 on April 9th, Many Clouds is going to be the one that the 39 other Grand National horses all have to beat granted a clear round.