Clouds trainer eyes National repeat

Published: Sunday 12th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Oliver Sherwood already has one eye on next year’s Crabbie’s Grand National for Many Clouds after reporting the Aintree hero in “fantastic” form the morning after his momentous triumph on Merseyside.

The Hennessy Gold Cup winner left connections perplexed when failing to run up to expectations in last month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, but bounced back to form in brilliant style to land the world’s most famous steeplechase in the hands of Leighton Aspell.

Sherwood spent the night celebrating in Liverpool, but arrived back at his Lambourn base on Sunday morning and is thrilled with how his pride and joy has recovered from his exertions.

Sherwood said: “Many Clouds is absolutely A1. We stayed up (in Liverpool) last night but my staff said he was fantastic and that he’d eaten up and had a buck and a kick. He’s handled it better than most of the two-legged people in the yard!

“He’ll probably stay here for a couple of weeks and will probably go to Sandown on the last day of the season for a parade there.

“He’ll then go back to Trevor Hemmings’ stud for his holiday, where he goes every season, before he comes back here in August.”

The trainer confirmed a return to Aintree in a year’s time is likely to be top of his agenda for next season.

He said: “I think he’s a Gold Cup horse that’s won a National.

“He can only carry a pound more next year and we’ll probably train him for the National, as opposed to the Gold Cup.”

While Many Clouds may only carry fractionally more than on Saturday next April, he is set to be raised 7lb.

Phil Smith, the British Horseracing Authority’s chief handicapper, felt the eight-year-old’s performance was at least the best since 1998.

“He’s won off 160. He’s the highest-rated horse to win the National since Red Rum,” Smith told At The Races.

“It’s a tricky one in terms of the best performance because in 1998 Suny Bay was second off 170, which was a fantastic performance looking back.

“I think I’m probably going to put Many Clouds up to 167 – up 7lb from yesterday. I’ve got no reason to doubt the quality of the form.

“The most he can carry next year is a pound (more). That’s the maximum top-weight, but you never know, there might be something better than him entered in the race next year.

“It should be an encouragement to the owners and trainers of those better horses it’s not necessarily going to be the weight that stops you.

“Many Clouds is 5lb off (Gold Cup winner) Coneygree. Many Clouds did not run his race for whatever reason at Cheltenham. It was a blip in what has been a pretty impressive season.

“Hopefully he’ll come back next season and the key thing is going to be the relativity of horses and how many pounds is he going to be giving other horses.

“If Many Clouds runs a couple of stinkers next year I will ignore them because he’s got the runs on the board. I know what he’s capable of achieving on that ground in early April.”

Published: Sunday 12th April 2015 by The News Editor

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