Many Clouds is on the verge of making history at Aintree, as he aims to become the first horse in over 40 years to win consecutive Grand Nationals.
Set to carry just one pound extra than he shouldered to victory in 2015, the son of Cloudings is primed to put up a bold bid in the Liverpool feature, according to his breeder, Aidan Aherne.
The Corkonian has witnessed his stock clinch big-race success before, but that doesn’t make the nerves any easier.
“I’ve been nervous all week - very, very nervous,” admitted Aherne.
“Many Clouds is very special. He would go over a cliff for you, he gives it everything. If he does win, it will be something else. I’m hoping he gets around safely and, with a bit of luck in running, I can’t see him being out of the first five.’’
If you told the Midleton native 12 months ago that he would be a Grand National-winning breeder, with the possibility of doubling up a year later, he would have laughed.
He wasn’t in attendance for last year’s triumph, as he didn’t feel that the nine-year-old would be suited by conditions which. As an avid follower of his stocks’ careers, that said a lot about his perceived chance.
This time around, however, he is certain to be in attendance to cheer on the Oliver Sherwood-trained gelding, in his bid to emulate the great Red Rum.
“It’s just unreal. Last year I thought he had too much weight to carry,” he added. “The trainer didn’t want him to go, but the owner did, and he got his way. And it worked out right.
“It was some performance and I’m hoping he can repeat it. He’s the class horse in the race. What does it mean to have bred a Grand National winner? Well, it means that I’m more famous than I was!”
Aherne will be a Grand National-winning breeder, regardless of what happens this afternoon. It is something that everyone with a stallion or broodmare dreams of achieving in their lifetime.
Although the prestige of having bred the winner of the world’s most famous steeplechase is a thrill in itself, Aherne admits to being bitterly disappointed that the feat was not financially recognised.
“You would get £10,000 if the horse was British-bred and if you have it entered in the scheme.
"It does irk me that the breeder of these big-race winners gets nothing. If you breed the winner of the National, there should be something there - whether it is £1,000 or £3,000, there should be something there for the breeder. It’s an absolute disgrace.”
Despite the sense of disappointment, the feeling of satisfaction prevails. Bobbing Back, the dam of Many Clouds, has been an incredible servant for Aherne since she produced her first foal just over a decade ago.
As a broodmare, she has also foaled Grade One winner The Tullow Tank, and only her second runner after Many Clouds. She is currently in foal to Kayf Tara.
“She was voted broodmare of the year for 2015 in Ireland, where there are 9,000 mares. To me, that meant more than winning the National. To beat Flat mares, it was some achievement.”
Should Many Clouds succeed this weekend, Aherne will be known as a dual Grand National-winning breeder. Now, wouldn’t that be something.
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