By Simon Jackson.
Many Clouds enhanced his claims as a leading contender for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup by landing the BetBright Cup Chase on Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham on Saturday.
The eight-year-old raced close to the pace for Leighton Aspell, before taking it up at the 14th fence. He kept on well to score by a length and a quarter from Smad Place who finished a neck ahead of the 2014 Ryanair Chase winner Dynaste.
Many Clouds’ victory in the three miles and one and a half furlong contest followed on from his success in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November.
He is now best-priced at 10-1, but as short as 8-1, for the Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 13 and trainer Oliver Sherwood believes that his charge has continued to improve.
“I was really impressed with him today,” Sherwood said. “Obviously I was impressed with him in the Hennessy as well. He got into a real good rhythm today and jumped super.
“Leighton was adamant that there was going to be no pace and that he was going to be handy,” the trainer told Channel 4 Racing.
“He was dossing a little bit up the run-in. He had been in front for a long time you know. We now know that he gets the trip really well and I think he has improved again.”
At his previous start at Cheltenham, in the RSA Chase at the Festival in 2014, Many Clouds was brought down when travelling well and Sherwood believed it was crucial to put that run behind him.
“It very important to come here, it was the number one reason we came here – to get some experience around Cheltenham. I think it was very important,” said Sherwood who was registering his first victory at the track since 2000.
“I am glad to get that monkey off my back,” he continued. “It has been a long time.
“I have been lucky enough to have had six festival winners so let’s hope that this is the seventh.”
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