Many Clouds offers real opposition to Conti in Gold Cup

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Sitting pretty at the top of the Cheltenham Gold Cup market, opposition for Silviniaco Conti had looked thin on the ground for the last few weeks, that was until Oliver Sherwood bagged his first winner at Prestbury Park since 2000 on Saturday.

Sherwood’s big gun this season (and probably in years to come) Many Clouds has shown no signs of slowing down the improvement he put in to land the Hennessy back in November.

In fighting off the likes of Dynaste and Smad Place, giving the latter 8lbs in the BetBright Cup Chase on Trials Day, he really announced himself as a true contender for the big one, cut in from 12/1 to 8/1 joint-second-favourite.

But how much do connections have to worry about the new kid on the block?

Well, at the prices, there’s still plenty of hope the Trevor Hemmings-owned gelding will give the market leader a big run for his money.

Firstly, the well-worn line of thought that Silviniaco Conti isn’t his best at Cheltenham cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Three visits to the home of jumps racing provide a form record of 3F4, and with no horse in recent memory netting the Gold Cup having twice been beaten in the race, this fact must be taken seriously.

Many Clouds’ victory at the weekend gave him that all important course form that is talked about as vital going into the Festival.

The one thing that the current joint-second-favourite does have in his locker is that he is a true battler.

His victory in the Hennessy marks him out as a winner at a distance further than any Silviniaco Conti has triumphed at, and his handler will be backing him if neck and neck come the run-in in March;

“If he gets into a battle, I know who will”, Oliver Sherwood stated in Monday’s Racing Post.

He will go over a cliff for you and that’s a huge plus in any horse”.

With nine chase starts to the current antepost favourite’s 17, there is plenty of potential improvement to come out of the horse.

Sherwood has also reported that he has come out of his latest exploits in good style, and is now primed for the showpiece event;

“He’s absolutely buzzing. He had a much harder race in the Hennessy when he was running on empty at the finish.

“He’s eaten up and he’s been out in the paddock and had a buck and a kick”, he said.

With the son of Cloudings reportedly in good spirits ahead of his big day, he looks a peach of an each-way bet at the Festival.

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

Is Oliver Sherwood’s charge the real deal? Back Many Clouds to win the Gold Cup using your free £25 bet and pick up an awesome £400 if he storms up that hill in style!

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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.