What Do Trainers Know Anyway?

"Many Clouds is a gentle giant. He would go over a cliff for you."


Leighton Aspell and owner Trevor Hemmings

Trevor Hemmings, who became the first owner for over a century to win the Crabbie’s Grand National with three different horses, said: “It’s remarkable. Someone’s very fortunate or someone’s looking down on me. Winning the three is incredible although I do buy them with this race in mind.

“Mr (Noel) Le Mare did three wins with Red Rum but I’ve done it a different way by selecting a Hedgehunter, a Ballabriggs and a Many Clouds. I just hope I can carry on and find another. It was a long time ago when somebody won with this many different horses.

“The story of how I got him is that I went round the stables at Tattersalls Ireland (in November 2007) with Jerry O’Leary, a friend who looks after my horses over there. We liked him and picked him out. We sent David Minton to look and he said the horse had no pedigree. I said to look again as he was athletic and to bid for it. He did and we got him. He cost 6,000 euros – I’m into expensive horses, Albertas Run cost 20,000 euros! You can do a lot with a little if you’re patient.

“I said to Oliver that this horse had got his weight in the National and wasn’t going to get any better in another year so we should run if he was OK. The horse has another cylinder, he used it in his Hennessy and Betbright Chase (at Cheltenham) but not in the last mile of the Gold Cup. The horse can’t tell you what happened that day. There was a nice gap between the Gold Cup and National dates and provided he was well we said we’d take a chance and run.”

Trainer Oliver Sherwood added: “I still don’t know what happened in the Gold Cup. We were disappointed. He didn’t run his race and I won’t have it that we were put out of our comfort zone by the winner. I think he just got out of bed on the wrong side that day. I can’t answer what happened there and that was our concern coming here.

Aintree-Grand-National-Ma-007_compressed “I’ve done nothing with him since. He purposefully hasn’t seen a National fence, Leighton and I discussed it and decided that. He’s had one school and all he’s done is two quiet bits of work.

“It gave me a bit more confidence this week when Silviniaco Conti ran well and Holywell didn’t do badly, so the Gold Cup form was standing up. There was an extra week between Cheltenham and Aintree this year which made all the difference. He’d go over a cliff for you. He just had a wobble after the race, it’s not the first time he’d done it.

Year Too Early?

“Hand on my heart I thought it was a year too early to run. I thought he’d be a National horse but I thought it was a year too soon, especially after running in a Gold Cup. Trevor wanted to run as long as the horse was healthy and fit. What do trainers know! I take my hat off to Mr Hemmings and can’t thank him enough for persuading me to run.

“I’ve never had a finisher in the race before and I’m really going to enjoy this one. I never doubted myself but it’s difficult when you don’t have the ammunition to go to war with – it’s no different from a footballer who can’t score goals or a cricketer who can’t get a century. You lose confidence but I’ve had a good couple of seasons with this fellow, Deputy Dan and Puffin Billy.

“That will be it for this season and then we’ll think about next season over the summer. I’d like to think he’d come here in a year’s time.”

Many-Clouds-ridden-by-Leighton-Aspell-celebrates-winningJockey Leighton Aspell said: “We thought we had him cherry-ripe for Cheltenham but he just disappointed us. I didn’t doubt his ability but I just thought he’d travel better there. He’d trained well and eaten well since, he’d given all the right signals, but you just had a nagging doubt at the back of the mind after Cheltenham. Until we got here today we didn’t know. We just had our fingers crossed.

“It all went well. I had a clear run. I had a good start, I got in behind with Alvarado on my left and A P (McCoy) on my outside on a good jumper. We knew he could jump so I wanted to be patient. I had a small squeeze at the Canal Turn and then after that I had a lovely smooth ride. Last year when I won I was shellshocked and had to work hard at various points in the race. I was going very well from the second-time at Becher’s and was always hopeful from then.

“I briefly spoke to A P afterwards and he was full of congratulations like he always has been. He’s as good a loser as he is a winner. If he’d have won he’d have brought the house down. I think the only people whose glad he’s beaten were me and (Sandown Racecourse’s) Andrew Cooper. It will be a wonderful send-off at Sandown.”

Workrider – Felt Like Idiot

Many Clouds’ workrider Nathan Horrocks said: “I feel a bit of an idiot because I said to Oliver on Tuesday that I wasn’t very happy with the horse’s work. What a great performance – he jumped and travelled and looked as if he made it very easy for Leighton out there. It’s great for Oliver, the stable and Lambourn. If you were going to war you’d take this horse with you. He’d stand by you and be your right-hand man. He’s a great character who tries his heart out, as he did here and in the Hennessy.”

Aintree racegoers were able to take a final look at Crabbie’s Grand National winner Many Clouds when the Oliver Sherwood-trained superstar was paraded in front of the stands after the last race of the day.

He was led up by Chris Jerdin, who has looked after the horse since he arrived at Sherwood’s Lambourn yard.

“I’m very proud of him,” said Jerdin, better known as “CJ”. “He had a bit of a wobble after the race, just like he did after winning the Hennessy, but he’s fine now. He’s had a long season – not many horses win a Hennessy, run in a Gold Cup and win the National. He’s a star.”

Trainer Oliver Sherwood

Trainer Oliver Sherwood

Sherwood said: “I stopped ‘CJ’ riding out at the start of the season, much to his annoyance, because he’s 60-something. He used to work for Fulke Walwyn and look after Rose Ravine. He’s a yard man now but he’s a proper, old-fashioned lad and he’s done Many Clouds since he arrived in the yard.”

Asked what it meant to his yard to win the Crabbie’s Grand National, Sherwood replied: “This is the horse of a lifetime. We’re a middle-sized yard with 50,60 horses, so it means a hell of a lot to me, my family and the whole yard.

“We’re staying at Goldford Stud just south of Chester tonight, which we’ve done for 25 years, and we’ll drive down early in the morning to have a party in Lambourn tomorrow.

“Many Clouds is a gentle giant. He would go over a cliff for you.”

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