Many Clouds favourite for Grand National despite top weight

Last year’s winner Many Clouds remains favourite for the Crabbie’s Grand National following confirmation yesterday he will carry top weight in the Aintree spectacular.

Oliver Sherwood’s nine-year-old carried the significant burden of 11st 9lb to victory in the world’s most famous steeplechase last April and with just an extra pound to carry this time around, he is a best priced 12-1 market leader to become the first horse to win back-to-back renewals since Red Rum in 1973 and 1974.

William Hill spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke said: “Many Clouds has many of the attributes you would associate with Red Rum; he stays, he jumps well and is courageous.”

William Hill also offer 100-1 that Many Clouds becomes the first horse since Red Rum to win three Grand Nationals in his career.

The Jonjo O’Neill-trained Holywell was a significant market mover following the publication of the weights at a lunch in London. A dual Cheltenham Festival winner and fourth in last year’s Gold Cup, the nine-year-old has been allotted 10st 12lb for the National and while he has endured a disappointing campaign thus far, he has been trimmed with several firms for the Merseyside feature.

BetVictor cut Holywell to 25-1 from 33-1, while Paddy Power make him their 16-1 second-favourite from the same price.

O’Neill failed to complete the Grand National course during his illustrious riding career, but broke his duck as a trainer when providing Tony McCoy with his sole victory in 2010 with Don’t Push It.

Shutthefrontdoor was favourite for the same combination last April - with McCoy suggesting he would retire on the spot if successful - but he had to make do with an honourable fifth place.

McCoy went on to call it a day at Sandown later that month, but Shutthefrontdoor is set to return as a major contender once more with 10st 11lb on his back and is currently available at 25-1.

Coral make O’Neill and Paul Nicholls 10-1 joint-favourites to train the Grand National winner, with Willie Mullins and Philip Hobbs both 12-1.

Nicholls and Mullins are 10-11 to be crowned champion trainer in Britain this season and Coral spokesman Simon Clare feels the National could have a major bearing on where the title ends up.

He said: “Many Clouds is clear favourite to do what no horse has done since Red Rum and win a second Grand National, and the handicapper has given him every chance of achieving that feat. The Grand National could also prove pivotal in determining the outcome of the trainers’ championship and Paul Nicholls appears to have a marginally better chance of winning the great race ahead of his title challenger Willie Mullins.”

Nicholls’ potential National hand includes dual King George winner Silviniaco Conti (11st 8lb), who can be backed at 33-1, while Mullins could call on 25-1 shot Don Poli (11st 9lb), among others. Shutthefrontdoor is one of nine entries owned by JP McManus and Betfred offer 12-1 that the leading owner picks up the National trophy for a second time following Don’t Push It’s triumph.


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