With just weeks to go until the greatest steeplechase in the world, racing fans will be casting an eye over all the entrants ahead of the 2019 Grand National. As ever, there’ll be 40 runners lining up come race day and it really is the highlight of the British racing calendar.
Some of the most iconic moments from racing have come via the Grand National, with jockeys, owners and trainers all revelling in the glory of winning the National Hunt event. One of those jockeys is Leighton Aspell, who tasted success in 2015 with Many Clouds. Here, we take a look back at Many Clouds’ win which was widely considered the best of his career.
Build up to Aintree
At the start of the National Hunt season, Many Clouds got off to the best possible start by winning the Colin Parker Memorial Chase at Carlisle in November. He and Eduard had an intense battle to the finish, with Many Clouds edging out his challenger by 1 ¼. Another fine win was to come later in the month as Many Clouds won the Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury.
A third consecutive victory was soon to follow, with a victory in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham at the start of 2015 before a rather timid effort in the Gold Cup in March saw Many Clouds end up in sixth place. It’s fair to say the eight-year-old was running very well as Aintree approached, but his disappointing effort in the big one at Cheltenham Festival cast doubts amongst fans.
The day of the race
Many Clouds entered the race with a starting price of 25/1, and he was also carrying the second-highest weight (11st, 9 lbs). His trainer Oliver Sherwood had originally wanted to run him the following year, but his requests were quashed by Aspell and owner Trevor Hemmings.
As the race began, Many Clouds kept up a good pace, was never far off the leading pack and was clearing the fences with minimal fuss. When Druids Nephew fell at the 26th, Many Clouds began to exert himself and took the lead and managed to fend off the challenge of Saint Are by one-and-three-quarter lengths.
It goes without saying that Many Clouds’ victory was the highlight of his career and the same can be said about Aspell, who was celebrating back-to-back Grand National wins after steering Pineau de Re to victory in 2014. Many Clouds’ win was made all the more special as he is still the only horse to win both the Hennessey Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same season, and he also carried the highest weight of a winner since Red Rum in 1974.
Of the win, Aspell explained: “It was wonderful and we will certainly celebrate tonight. I asked some big questions, but he dug deep.
“We really refreshed and recharged his battery and I tried to conserve energy. He is all heart. All season, he has had hard races. Win lose or draw, that’s the best ride I have had in the National. I just hoped his battery life lasted out and it did.”
Think you can pick this year’s winner? Check out all the prices with Grand National 2019 betting on Betfair.