Horse Talk with Simon Jackson: Top horse-racing tips and the latest news.
MANY CLOUDS’ death after his courageous defeat of Thistlecrack in the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase cast a gloom over Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham.
Grand National winner Many Clouds inflicted the first defeat over fences of 4/9 favourite Thistlecrack who also heads the betting for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The Oliver Sherwood-trained 10-year-old raced close to the pace under Leighton Aspell to score by a head from Thistlecrack with last year’s winner Smad Place third.
Oliver Sherwood said: “I’ve had to have a couple of real stiff drinks to relax myself. I have been in the training game for 34 years and today was both the best and worst scenario.
“I watched the race with Alan King (Smad Place’s trainer) and Many Clouds got back to win – I was on a high. My travelling head girl, Lisa, then rang me to say the horse was down. I knew the worst – I had a gut feeling.
“The only thing you can say is that Many Clouds has died doing what he loved – he loved jumping and he loved racing. I have always told everyone, he would die for you and he has gone and died for us, doing what he loved. It happens to us all, we all go at some point. He has gone out on a high.
“He had wobbled after races before and people queried why he raced on, but what do you do with a horse like that? I thought, hand on heart, having had a wind op that he might have been struggling for oxygen and hence the reason we did it. He was better on his first run back [when winning] at Aintree this season.
“It was a war of attrition today against what Colin and Joe [Tizzard] and most of the public thought was an unbeatable horse. Clouds wanted it probably a bit more than Thistlecrack did, but has paid for it with his life.
“Horses like Many Clouds don’t grow on trees and it is going to be difficult to find a replacement. I have to enjoy the Hennessy and National wins and it was probably a career-best from him today.
“It is very sad for everyone – CJ (Chris Jerdin) who looks after him at home, Lisa my travelling head girl, Stefan, my head man and all the team at Rhonehurst. It is going to very tough having an empty box there tomorrow and on Monday.
“It was spine-chilling walking back down when it was announced and the whole crowd clapped. That finished me completely and I did lose it a bit then. Leighton Aspell is in bits and has gone home.
“Let’s enjoy the life of Many Clouds – he was a real wonder horse. He had guts and jumping ability – with that you will always win races.”
Thistlecrack’s trainer, Colin Tizzard, said: “I am so sorry. We were beaten by a better horse on the day. Two lovely horses ran themselves to the line and poor old Many Clouds. Our initial thoughts that we got beat and it was a bit disappointing but this is as sad as can be. Many Clouds was a fantastic, lovely horse.
“Thistlecrack ran his race and we are not making any excuses whatsoever. Today, on winter ground, we were beaten by a better horse – there is no question about that. They went to battle and it’s just a tragic end to the race. It’s what happens in our sport occasionally and we have to face up to it.”
Noel Hayes, director of Sportsbook at sponsor BetBright, added: “After a truly brilliant and heroic performance from Many Clouds, racing has lost a wonderful horse and our thoughts go out to the connections.”
Horse Talk with Simon Jackson. Showcasing horse racing in London and the south east.