03rd February 2017

Loss of Many Clouds was hard to deal with

A huge crowd were treated to a fantastic day of racing on Festival trials day at Cheltenham last Saturday but it was tinged with so much sadness with Many Clouds losing his life.

It was so poignant that he passed away being the country’s best chaser at the top of Cheltenham’s hill. He was at the top of his game and that was his best ever performance. In the weighing room with the lads, initially we were shocked that Thistlecrack had been beaten, but then it started to filter through about what had happened to Many Clouds and it put everything into perspective. It was a hugely sad day, but Many Clouds needs to be remembered for everything he achieved as a Grand National and a Hennessy winner. He was a real hero, a people’s horse, exceptionally trained by Oliver Sherwood and brilliantly ridden by Leighton Aspell. It was a such a sad day but Many Clouds will never be forgotten.

Saphir Du Rheu ran a smashing race in the Hugos Barbados Restaurant Trophy Handicap Chase to finish second to Foxtail Hill. It’s a step in the right direction and it’s a shame a lighter weight caught him. But it was a great weight carrying performance and he gave me a fantastic ride. Hopefully he can pick up a big race this season, as he’s a very talented horse, and he deserves to.

It was a proper trials day and although the ground is most likely to be different in March, it was hugely competitive racing with some really good horses in action.

I have a four and half car journey today, depending on traffic, to Catterick. Chepstow has been abandoned due to water logging so I head up there where I have two rides for Wayne Clifford of Bathwick Tyres.

In the Racing To School Juvenile Hurdle Moon Arrow has his first try over hurdles and it will be interesting to see how he takes to it. Bladoun has dropped in the weights for the Free Racedays With The Racegoers Club Novices’ Handicap Chase and I am hoping he will run a good race.

Racing plans tomorrow are a bit uncertain at the moment but it looks like I will be heading back south to Sandown Park where I might be on Irving. I’ve won seven races on him, including a grade one and three grade twos and he’s been such a good servant to me over the years. He faces tough opposition from Brain Power, a recent grade three winner at Ascot, and Buveur D’Air who won Aintree’s grade one novices’ hurdle in April and has won both his starts over fences. With the Champion Hurdle picture still looking a bit cloudy at the momen,t it might be that Nicky Henderson is considering that as an option for him.

It’s also Festival Trials weekend at Musselburgh with very good prize money on offer. A few horses that have run there have gone on to win at the Festival so it can be a good meeting to watch out for possible Cheltenham contenders.

The Cheltenham Festival Preview evenings will be starting very soon and I usually do three or four a year and there’s usually really great banter. I will be doing Exeter Racecourse’s on March 7, just a week before the Festival, so it should be a good evening with plenty of chat from the panel.