Many Clouds 'A1' as Aintree Grand National looms

Many Clouds 'A1' as Aintree Grand National looms

Many Clouds delighted trainer Oliver Sherwood in a schooling session ahead of his bid to repeat last year's victory in the Crabbie's Grand National at Aintree on Saturday week.

Sherwood could not be happier as Many Clouds attempts to emulate the legendary Red Rum, who was the last horse to record back-to-back victories in the world's greatest steeplechase 42 years ago.

"He just popped over a few fences. Leighton (Aspell) rode him. He's fine, he's A1 and I'm very happy. Everything is tickity boo," said the Lambourn handler.

"He'll do a bit of light work on Saturday morning. It's just routine stuff now until the big day."

Tom George cannot wait for the big day with Saint Are, who was second last year but is 2lb better off for being beaten a length and three-quarters.

"I'm very happy with him. Everything's going right," said the Slad trainer.

"He did some schooling on Wednesday and we're just keeping him ticking over and try to keep him where we are and in one piece.

"It's all routine stuff really."

The Druids Nephew appeared to be going well in the lead when he fell at the fifth-last fence last year and a return trip to Aintree has been the target ever since.

Trainer Neil Mulholland has booked Denis O'Regan and he put the nine-year-old through his paces over Grand National replica fences at Lambourn on Thursday morning.

"It's going very well. He schooled over Grand National fences this morning and everything went according to plan," said the Wiltshire handler.

"Denis rode him in his work and he rides him at Aintree.

"We're happy at the minute, so it's fingers crossed."

Kerry Lee would cap an amazingly successful first season since taking over from her father Richard if she were to become the fourth woman trainer to win the National.

Both of the Presteigne handler's two entries, Coral Welsh National hero Mountainous and Betfred Grand National winner Bishops Road, need horses to come out for them to make the cut.

The latter, unbeaten in two starts since being bought out of Henry de Bromhead's yard in September for £32,000 at Goffs, is owned by Alan Halsall, who is a director at Aintree.

"It is all systems go towards Aintree with Bishops Road," said Lee.

"I have been very happy with him since Haydock Park. He has schooled over Grand National-style fences and everything is going to plan.

"I am not at all worried about ground conditions. Aintree always produces beautiful ground and I am very happy to be going there. We just need nine horses to come out.

"Jamie Moore (who is currently injured) is working his socks off to get back in time for Aintree and I am quite confident that he will be."

Rebecca Curtis went close to winning the National with Teaforthree, who was third three years ago, and she believes her 2014 RSA Chase winner O'Faolains Boy, her representative this year, ticks all the boxes.

"I think he's tailor-made for the race. He's a brilliant jumper, stays well and will go on the ground so hopefully he'll run a big race," the Newport trainer said.

Of Nigel Twiston-Davies' entries, only Double Ross is guaranteed a run and the Naunton trainer believes he is the right type. He should know having lifted the great race with Earth Summit in 1998 and Bindaree in 2002.

"The only one of my three certain to get in is Double Ross. The other two - Splash Of Ginge and Bally Beaufort - I'm pretty sure won't, but we'd love to run them," said Twiston-Davies.

"Double Ross hasn't had the greatest season. He's had a second and a fourth and hasn't won, but the National will suit him."

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