By Simon Jackson.
Oliver Sherwood admitted he is surprised by the global interest in last year’s Crabbie’s Grand National winner Many Clouds whose intended run at Kelso today was abandoned. due to bad weather.
Many Clouds is best priced at 12-1, but as short as 10-1 favourite for the 2016 National at Aintree on April 9 after he was allotted 11st 10lbs when the weights were revealed last month.
The Oliver Sherwood-trained nine-year-old this year is set to carry just one pound more than when winning last year, the victory providing owner Trevor Hemmings with a third victory in the world’s greatest steeplechase, following the victories of Hedgehunter (2005) and Ballabriggs (2011).
Many Clouds’ success under Leighton Aspell was the jockey’s second successive win in the National and Sherwood believes the jockey is crucial to his charge, whose preparation has been hindered by today’s abandonment of racing at Kelso after heavy rain.
“I was staggered by the worldwide response to Many Clouds’ win last year with interest from everywhere including Japan, America and Australia. I couldn’t believe how much the Grand National means to the rest of the world,” Sherwood said before news of the cancellation of Kelso.
“I was expecting 11st 10lb, anything less would have been a bonus. There are two Gold Cup and two King George winners in the race [Grand National] which says a lot for the race and where it is going.
“Many Clouds will head to Kelso before Aintree for a Listed race 10 days before Cheltenham. It is very different to last year when he was being trained for the Gold Cup with the National something of an afterthought.
“It is very important Leighton Aspell rides Many Clouds. Nobody else has ridden him in a race or schooled him. After two Grand Nationals, his confidence must be sky high.”
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