Many Clouds brings sunshine for Oliver Sherwood

Paul Nicholls: 100th Grade One winner. Picture: Getty
Paul Nicholls: 100th Grade One winner. Picture: Getty
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MANY Clouds outstayed his rivals to give trainer Oliver Sherwood a second victory in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.

Sherwood scored with Arctic Call in 1990 and Many Clouds demonstrated seemingly endless reserves of stamina to triumph under Leighton Aspell at odds of 8-1.

Houblon Des Obeaux, a 50-1 chance, kept on for second, with Merry King third and Monbeg Dude fourth in the Grade Three feature.

Sherwood said: “This is special, it doesn’t happen to me. I’m just chuffed to bits. He’s a very, very tough horse. I’m just delighted for the whole team.”

Many Clouds was buried in the pack on the first circuit as What A Warrior, Annacotty and Le Reve set a strong gallop in the early stages, but their exertions soon told and they were swallowed up as the challengers were lined up in behind.

Houblon Des Obeaux looked a likely winner as he headed in front of Many Clouds in the straight, with Merry King coming between horses under champion jockey Tony McCoy.

Many Clouds found plenty for Aspell after jumping the last, though, edging ahead on the run-in before eventually pulling three and a quarter lengths clear.

Houblon Des Obeaux hung on for second by a length, with Monbeg Dude staying on with purpose for fourth.

Djakadam, the 5-1 favourite, could be spotted travelling well at one stage, but when push came to shove, Willie Mullins’ charge had nothing left in the tank and finished out of the frame.

Aspell said: “I used his jumping just to get my position. I was very conscious not to be in front too early, this is his first time at the trip. It’s great to get the opportunity to ride these big winners.”

Houblon Des Obeaux’s trainer Venetia Williams was full of praise for her charge. She said: “I’m absolutely thrilled. I think we celebrated as if we had won as that was a wonderful performance off top weight. He’s only a seven-year-old and we’ve had him since he was a three-year-old. There will be a route to Aintree for the National, but I think we will leave that for next year.”

McCoy said of Merry King: “I thought three out I was going to win. He ran a blinder, in fairness.”

Earlier, Paul Nicholls scored his 100th Grade One success as Irving landed the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

Sent off the 6-4 favourite, Nick Scholfield pushed Irving to the front after the last to see off the game filly, Aurore D’Estruval, by a length and three-quarters. Willie Mullins’ Irish raider, Arctic Fire, was third.

Nicholls said: “I’m very lucky to train 100 Grade One winners, but it reflects so well on Team Ditcheat.”

Outsider Swaledale Lad set the early gallop, but Irving made significant headway before the field straightened up for home, just as Aurore D’Estruval made her break.

Scholfield clearly had the move covered, as he allowed his companion to move upsides before pushing the button after the last. The runner-up tried her best, but Irving ran out a comfortable winner, atoning for his last-flight departure when looking a winner at Wincanton last time.

Nicholls said: “He can only get better. He’s just got to sharpen his jumping up – he’s just got to get slick and good – but I think there’s a lot more to come from this horse. The faster they go, the better.

“We’ll probably go for the Christmas Hurdle next and see where we are after that.”