Connections to last year’s Grand National winner, Many Clouds, were dealt a blow last weekend when the Kelso fixture that was intended to be his prep race for this year’s National, was abandoned due to a water logged course.
Trainer Oliver Sherwood had to weigh up his options which included a possible run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup or even go straight to Aintree but with the fixture now re-arranged to this coming weekend, Many Clouds has been given the green light to head north again.
The BHA and other interested parties moved to allow the rescheduling of Kelso’s meeting lost on Saturday for Sunday, March 13 and the entire card has been successfully rearranged with Many Clouds set to feature.
Following the announcement, Sherwood said: “It’s a great initiative by the BHA and everyone involved to save the fixture. I’d been involved in discussions in the past few days. All being well Many Clouds will be there on Sunday.”
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“It’s not ideal to go up there again, but I’m very happy with the horse. He’s come back fine and will head up there again. He definitely runs unless something happens to the horse between now and then.”
There are two significant reasons that connections will be relieved not to have go to the Gold Cup. Firstly, the Kelso race is far less taxing. It’s a great opportunity for him to stretch his legs without too much pressure, and certainly nothing like the pressure of the Gold Cup.
Secondly, it gives nearly an extra week’s recovery time. With only three weeks between the Gold Cup and the Grand National, every extra day of rest counts so going to Kelso will provide Sherwood with the optimum amount of time between races.
And while he may be the biggest name in the race, he will be doing battle against two other potential Grand National runners in the form of Unioniste and Maggio.
Run over 2m7f96y, it looks like it’s going to be a great race and a definite indicator as to whether or not Many Clouds has what it takes to win back-to-back Grand Nationals.
He will once again be partnered with Leighton Aspell, the only jockey to have ever ridden him professionally. Unioniste will be paired with Nick Scholfield with Brian Hughes taking the reigns on Maggio.
A delighted clerk of the Kelso course, Anthea Morshead, said: “We are absolutely thrilled about moving one of our most prestigious meetings to Sunday which is unprecedented here and full marks to the racecourse, BHA, race-planning, Racing UK and the Tote for supporting the move.
“I know that Oliver Sherwood was keen to bring Many Clouds back and we also expect Unioniste to run in the Listed Chase.”
One thing is for sure, all eyes will be on Kelso this Sunday and if Many Clouds does manage to get that elusive post Grand National win then expect the Grand National ante-post odds to go into free fall.
He’s already the race favourite and as short as 12/1, if he wins on Sunday, he’ll almost certainly go as short as 10/1.