Thursday 29 September 2016

Two in a row for Leighton Aspell as Many Clouds lands Grand National

Published 11/04/2015 | 17:11

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 11: Leighton Aspell celebrates after winning the 2015 Crabbie's Grand National on Many Clouds at Aintree Racecourse on April 11, 2015 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 11: Leighton Aspell celebrates after winning the 2015 Crabbie's Grand National on Many Clouds at Aintree Racecourse on April 11, 2015 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Many Clouds ridden by Leighton Aspell is cooled down after winning the Grand National Chase Reuters / Darren Staples Livepic

Many Clouds won the Crabbie's Grand National at Aintree for trainer Oliver Sherwood and last year's winning jockey Leighton Aspell.

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Successful aboard Pineau De Re 12 months ago, Aspell was never too far off the pace and Many Clouds, winner of the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury earlier in the season and sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, jumped with aplomb throughout.

For a long way it appeared Shutthefrontdoor could provide Tony McCoy with a fairytale second National triumph before his retirement, but he eventually weakened into fifth place.

Many Clouds tired from the elbow, but had enough in the tank to hold off Saint Are, with Monbeg Dude third and Alvarado fourth.

Aspell said: "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. "

The win was a third in the National for owner Trevor Hemmings after Hedgehunter (2005) and Ballabriggs (2011).

Sherwood said: "I can't believe it, it was some spin. All I wanted was the horse to come back in one piece.

"He was foot-perfect and didn't make a mistake. I thought it was a year too soon, but he was fit and healthy and it was Trevor's decision - he must get all the credit.

"The horse has been unbelievable all season, he has blossomed all year - he just got out of bed the wrong way in the Gold Cup.

"I didn't show him any National fences on purpose, I thought he had just gone over the top before the Gold Cup."

Hemmings said: "Seriously, it was incredible. You come to the National and you dream that you win it.

"When a third comes along, that is something special. It is a wonderful, wonderful feeling.

"For years and years this race has captured my heart. What a wonderful feeling, you can't express it.

"Thank you Oliver Sherwood, thank you Leighton and all the staff, and, of course, Aintree."

Sherwood added: "I didn't see my horse come back in, so I was a bit worried, but I gather he was just a bit wobbly and he's OK.

"Jumping the last I couldn't watch. I watched the race on my own and the poor people beside me - I lost it completely!

"It was some spin from Leighton - to win it two years on the bounce is just unreal.

"I still don't know what happened in the Gold Cup. He definitely didn't run his race, nothing against the winner (Coneygree).

"I've done nothing with this horse since Cheltenham. He hasn't seen a National fence. I didn't think it was the right thing to do. He's done two quiet bits of work and that's all I've done with him.

"It gave me a bit more confidence this week when (Silviniaco) Conti ran so well and Holywell didn't run badly, so the Gold Cup form was working out.

"Luckily this year there's an extra week from Cheltenham to Aintree, which has made a huge difference.

"I'm going to really enjoy this one - I'm in cloud cuckoo land!

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