Many Clouds will bid to emulate Red Rum in Saturday’s Grand National
PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
A PLACE alongside Red Rum in the Aintree Hall of Fame awaits last year’s winner Many Clouds if he follows up in today’s Crabbie’s Grand National, while rider Leighton Aspell bids for an unprecedented third straight victory.
No horse since the legendary Red Rum in 1974 has won back-to-back Nationals, but not many will have a better chance than the Oliver Sherwood-trained nine-year-old, who carries just 1lb more than 12 months ago.
Owned by National enthusiast Trevor Hemmings, who is bidding for his fourth win in the race, Many Clouds has been aimed at the National all season – it was an afterthought following the Cheltenham Gold Cup last term.
‘I am chilled and relaxed’
Creditable efforts in conditions chases at Aintree and Cheltenham were followed by a fluent success at Kelso 27 days ago, and things have gone smoothly since.
Sherwood said: “I am very chilled and relaxed. Everything has gone right since Kelso. On form he is certainly on a par with where he was last year and ticks all the boxes for Aintree.
“He stays, he has jumped the fences and he goes on the ground. There will be question marks about others.
“But you need so much luck in running. You need only to look at the Jockey Cam footage from last year’s race, when Leighton pulled out just at the right time. A horse can fall in front of you and the race is over. It’s not just your performance, it’s the 39 others.
“There is more expectancy this time, but I can do no more now. It comes down to luck, the horse and Leighton.”
Sherwood added: “It’s a great privilege to be in a position to be possibly compared with Red Rum, but I don’t expect it, I just hope for it.”
Aspell chases hat-trick
Aspell, who also won on Pineau De Re in 2014, is the eighth jockey to have attempted a Grand National hat-trick but would be the first to succeed if successful.
“The stats and history may be against us but I’m in one piece, Many Clouds and I have a great association and his ratings have improved year by year as he has strengthened,” said Aspell.
“This season his couple of runs against Smad Place and Don Poli showed he’s as good or better than ever. His run at Kelso last time was great and he’s in great nick.”
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