AND there it was. One of the finest specimens of a National Hunt horse that you’ll ever see galloping to success in the world’s greatest race. I have adored Many Clouds since he glided to victory at Wetherby on his bumper debut a few years ago. It was obvious then he had an engine. But, like most other so-called pundits, I didn’t fancy him for yesterday’s Crabbie’s Grand National. I thought the hard races he had in winning the Hennessy Gold Cup and the Argento Chase had left their mark, especially after he slightly disappointed connections in the Cheltenham Gold Cup a month ago.
I backed him at Cheltenham. I didn’t yesterday. But I was still thrilled to see him grind it out on the long run-in under 11st 9lb, the highest winning weight since Red Rum in 1977.
Many Clouds is only eight. He could run in at least three more Grand Nationals and he would only have to carry 1lb more as 11st 10lb is now the maximum weight. He might not be quite a Gold Cup horse but he is made for Aintree.
He travels beautifully with a high cruising speed so can lay up with a strong gallop. He jumps accurately without expending much energy. He is a strapping bugger so can carry the weight with aplomb. And in Leighton Aspell he has the perfect bedfellow: cool-headed and confident.
Let’s hope Many Clouds stays sound and graces Aintree again and again and again. Another Rummy? Who knows, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility, especially if Oliver Sherwood and his team continue to nurture him with the magnificent skill and precision they have showed so far.