Many Clouds is favourite to win the Aintree Grand National for a second successive season when he lines up on April 9th.
Many Clouds bids to emulate Red Rum at Aintree
Oliver Sherwood’s nine-year-old only ran in the race on the insistence of owner Trevor Hemmings last year following a disappointing run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Racing off a mark of 160, he ran on gamely to hold off Saint Are by a length and three-quarters at odds of 25-1.
His entire campaign has been geared to a repeat victory this season. He needed the run at Wetherby in October before chasing home Don Poli at Aintree in December. He was then beaten 12 lengths by Smad Place at Cheltenham in heavy ground in January before completing his preparation with an easy victory at Kelso.
Although only 5lbs higher this year, he will still have to carry top weight of 11st 10lbs. The last horse to win the Grand National in successive seasons was Red Rum in 1973-74.
Paul Nicholls won the Grand National for the first time when Neptune Collonges beat Sunnyhillboy in a dramatic photo-finish in 2012. He saddles Silviniaco Conti this year, twice a winner of the Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton Park. The chestnut was pulled up when attempting a third victory in December but bounced back to win impressively at Ascot. Nicholls decided to by-pass the Cheltenham Gold Cup in favour of a tilt at the Grand National this year.
The Last Samuri enjoys perfect Aintree preparation
Kim Bailey has rarely hit the headlines since winning the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup back in 1995. Harry Topper won three Grade 2 races for the stable in recent seasons while Darna won at the 2015 Cheltenham festival. He has a leading Grand National contender in The Last Samuri, an eight-year-old gelding by Flemensfirth.
He has improved with every run this season and was particularly impressive when beating The Druids Nephew by ten lengths in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster. He is a safe jumper who likes good ground so he has to be on the short-list with only 10st 8lbs to carry at Aintree. [Read more…]