Cheltenham Gold Cup an option for Many Clouds

It appears increasingly likely that Crabbie’s Grand National winner Many Clouds may attempt to do the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup-Aintree double after his intended prep race was scuppered by the weather at Kelso on Saturday.

Cheltenham Gold Cup an option for Many Clouds

An overnight deluge of 16 millimetres forced the Scottish track to abandon.

Trainer Oliver Sherwood had hoped to use the Listed Premier Chase as a stepping stone for Aintree.

Despite admitting he was “frustrated”, Sherwood is exploring a trio of options for the Trevor Hemmings-owned Many Clouds, who was sixth to Coneygree in last year’s Gold cup en route to glory in the world’s greatest steeplechase.

Sherwood said: “There is no plan at the moment. I want to speak to Mr Hemmings in the next 48 hours before making a decision, but we will let everyone know what the plan is in midweek.

“Many Clouds is back home, back in his box and is safe and sound.

“Realistically, there are a couple of options. We could go straight to Aintree.

“We could run in the Gold Cup and then go on to the National and there is also an outside chance that they will reschedule the Kelso race, but it is only a slim chance that this happens. Although we are trying, it looks pretty unlikely to be honest.

“I am keen to get a race in him, so the Gold Cup is on the agenda but there are just three weeks between Cheltenham and Aintree — last year there was four, which was perfect.

“The positive is that he had a harder schedule last year — he had a hard race in the Hennessy and didn’t perform in the Gold Cup — and he’s a year older.”

Meanwhile, The Druids Nephew will head straight to the Grand National after finishing second to The Last Samuri in the BetBright Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster on Saturday.

Neil Mulholland’s representative was running a fine race and leading at Aintree when falling five out last year.

Currently a general 16-1 for the April 9 showpiece, Mulholland feels the nine-year-old will come on a ton for his first race in three months.

He said: “It was a beautiful run. I was delighted with him and he has come out of the race bouncing. He would have preferred better ground than the soft he got yesterday, and given that was his first run for a while, it was a tremendous performance.

“He will certainly improve for the run and on better ground. He will go straight to the National.”

Like Many Clouds, Kruzhlinin will undertake a Cheltenham-Aintree double when he runs in both the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase and the Grand National.

Jason Maguire, racing manager for owners Paul and Clare Rooney, gave an upbeat report on the nine-year-old, who missed the Grade Three BetBright Chase at Kempton in favour of a tilt at the three-mile-one-furlong event on Tuesday week.

Kruzhlinin, who is generally a 10-1 second-favourite behind Out Sam for the Grade Three Cheltenham race, was a five-length winner of a three-mile handicap chase at Kempton in early January for trainer Philip Hobbs.

And while he has risen 10lb subsequently, Maguire feels he is still well handicapped.

He said: “He runs on the Tuesday. He won well last time at Kempton. He was very impressive and went a little bit left-handed, so you would think Cheltenham would suit him.

“His target is the National, but there is nearly four weeks from Cheltenham to the National, so it gives him plenty of time to recover. It helps a lot because I’m sure there are a few people who would like to do the double.

“If Kruzhlinin is going to be ahead of the handicapper, then it is going to be this time.”

The Rooneys are likely to have two of the top six in the market for the National.

While Khruzlinin is a general 20-1 chance for the Aintree marathon, The Last Samuri is joint-second favourite after his win on Saturday.

Maguire said: “The Last Samuri is 100% this morning. He will obviously get geared up for the National now. That was a good performance yesterday.

“He’s a horse who is probably still a bit weak, but it was an ideal prep for him timing-wise, because he would not be the biggest, most robust horse. He has a slight frame.

“It was ideal because we have plenty of time to get him back and cherry ripe for the day.”

Having formerly been trained by Donald McCain, The Last Samuri was recording his second win for Kim Bailey, who famously won the Grand National with Mr Frisk in record time in 1990.

Maguire added: “It is lovely to see Kim back in the limelight.

“They have done well the last couple of years. They have been getting more horses and better quality horses. They have a good assistant in Matt Nicholls and they’ve got a great team there.”

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