Many Clouds means Grand National picture is still unclear

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“My dream is to win the Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same year”.

Those were the words of Many Clouds’ owner Trevor Hemmings at the start of 2015, and already his dream is down the chute.

However, a crack at the Aintree spectacular could still be on the agenda with trainer Oliver Sherwood likely to make his decision this week.

He was reportedly unhappy with how his Hennessy Gold Cup winner ran at Cheltenham, but the fact he still managed to finish sixth of 16 bodes testament to the genuine nature of the horse.

Jumping is what Many Clouds does well, and that would certainly hold him in good stead over the course’s birch behemoths.

But with no Hennessy winner taking the Merseyside prize in the same season, it appears a tall order.

The 2013 Newbury champion Triolo D’Alene was pulled up in the 4m3½f contest in April, but more solace is provided by Suny Bay and What’s Up Boys who both managed to finish second when attempting the double.

His decision is due soon, but if Oliver Sherwood’s charge lines up on April 11, he is no 25/1 shot.

One horse that is looking increasingly likely to face the stamina test is Paul Nicholls’ Rebel Rebellion (33/1).

After running out a very game winner in a Newbury handicap at the weekend the Ditcheat handler spoke of how the Topham Chase looked ideal for his 10-year-old.

However Nicholls’ seems to have performed a u-turn with the longer contest now fully on his radar.

While his stamina looked to be far from on the wane towards the latter stages of Saturday’s race, he has yet to taste success at 3m in his career, so another mile-and-a-half would be unknown territory for the son of Lord Americo.

Nevertheless, the champion trainer must have seen something in his performance that hints that he could be part of his potentially seven strong national assault.

With so many charges likely to line up, Nicholls will be on the hunt for jockeys, as will both Neil Mulholland and Nicky Henderson.

Barry Geraghty was due to partner either The Druids Nephew (14/1) or Hadrian’s Approach (40/1) at Aintree, but a broken leg means that he will miss much of the rest of the season.

The former was a very taking winner at Cheltenham and looks to stay all day, while the latter was a horse filled with such promise early in his career – having finished second in a Feltham and third in an RSA Chase – that has flattered to deceive this season.

Nevertheless both horses will be fantastic outside rides to pick up, with Davy Russell mooted as the likely rider for Mulholland’s Festival winner.

Russell doesn’t have the best National record, having completed on just four of his 11 spins, with a best finish of seventh, so an upturn in fortunes will be necessary to succeed.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.