Hennessy Gold Cup
|Grade 3 Handicap, Newbury 15:00
3m 2f 110y, Class 1
|Saturday 29th November 2014|
1 Many Clouds 8/1
2 Houblon Des Obeaux 50/1
3 Merry King 14/1
4 Monbeg Dude 25/1
19 ran Distances: 3¼l, 1l, 15l
TIME 6m 48.10s (slow by 17.10s)
Many Clouds wins the Hennessy Gold Cup for Leighton Aspell and Oliver Sherwood
Aspell: "I just used his jumping along the back to get my position and then I thought I was ready for second, but he dug very deep"
Oliver Sherwood bridged a 24-year gap when landing his second triumph in the race as a brave Many Clouds outstayed his rivals to lift the Newbury showpiece.
It was way back in 1990 that Sherwood collected with Arctic Call, and the Upper Lambourn trainer was on the roll of honour again as Many Clouds demonstrated endless reserves of stamina to land the spoils under this year's Grand National-winning jockey Leighton Aspell.
Houblon Des Obeaux kept on for second, with Merry King third and Monbeg Dude fourth.
"This is special, it doesn't happen to me," said an emotional Sherwood. "I'm just chuffed to bits. He's a very, very tough horse.
"I thought we were beat and going to be second or third, but Leighton galvanised him and fair play to the horse, but it will take him a long time to get over that. That's the first time I've seen him really wobbly. This was the plan."
Coral and Paddy Power offerred odds of 16-1 about Many Clouds for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but Sherwood believes his runner still has something to find if he is to make his mark in that kind of class.
He said: "He kept jumping and picking out a bit more and a bit more. It'll take him a while to get over that. The Lexus (at Leopardstown over Christmas) will come too soon. He's still got a bit to go to get up to Gold Cup class, but you've got to keep dreaming. I don't mind if we go to the Gold Cup without a run."
Many Clouds, owned by Trevor Hemmings, was buried in the pack on the first circuit and top-weight Houblon Des Obeaux looked a likely winner as he headed in front 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, but Willie Mullins' raider Djakadam (5-1 favourite) had nothing left in the tank when push came to shove 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."
There was a sting in the taill, however, as he was suspended for seven days (December 13-19) for using his whip above the permitted level, and fined £1,800.
Houblon Des Obeaux's trainer Venetia Williams was full of praise for her charge and would love to go for the Cheltenham Gold Cup if the ground was soft.
She said: "When he jumped to the front going down the back, it told me he was going well and that the pace wasn't strong enough. There were so many horses fairly close to each other at that stage. He's all about stamina. He lost second place and then stayed on well again to claim it back. I'm absolutely thrilled.
"I think he's got a bit to go before he's level pegging with the Gold Cup horses, but if it turned up soft ground in March, you'd have to respect him. He ran respectably in it last year but the ground was good.
"There will be a route to Aintree for the National, but I think we will leave that for next year. "
He said: "I'm very happy with him. I just wished it had been a bit better ideally! He ran a great race. I don't know what we'll do now. That was our plan. At the start of the week we planned to go back for the Welsh National. We'll see."
Michael Scudamore has already set his sights on the Aintree Grand National with Monbeg Dude and will work back from the April 11 date to map a campaign.
He said: "What a star he's been for us. He's an out-and-out stayer and couldn't have run any better. We'll just plan round the National.
"Obviously he's got the entry at Chepstow (Welsh National). We'll have to see about that how he comes out of this. We'll be working back from the National. That's good enough for me."
Hennessy Gold Cup Chase (Grade 3 Handicap)
£175,000 added, 4yo plus, 3m 2f 110y, Class 1
Going: Soft, Good to Soft in places
|Pos||Dist||Horse / Jockey||Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Many Clouds (IRE) 8/1
L P Aspell
|2nd||3&;frac14||Houblon Des Obeaux (FR) 50/1
|11-12||Miss V Williams||7|
|3rd||1||Merry King (IRE) 14/1
A P McCoy
|4th||15||Monbeg Dude (IRE) 25/1
|5th||¾||Smad Place (FR) 6/1
D F O'Regan
|6th||3¾||Unioniste (FR) 20/1
N D Fehily
|11-6||P F Nicholls||6|
|7th||¾||The Druids Nephew (IRE) 7/1
D N Russell
|10-10||N P Mulholland||7|
|8th||3½||Djakadam (FR) 5/1f
|10-11||W P Mullins||5|
|9th||17||Midnight Prayer 20/1
Tom Bellamy (5)
|PU||Triolo D'alene (FR) 25/1
B J Geraghty
|11-12||N J Henderson||7|
|PU||Rocky Creek (IRE) 8/1
|11-11||P F Nicholls||8|
|PU||Ballynagour (IRE) 25/1
|PU||Fingal Bay (IRE) 6/1
|11-8||P J Hobbs||8|
|PU||Vino Griego (FR) 50/1
J E Moore
|11-7||G L Moore||9|
|PU||Annacotty (IRE) 20/1
|PU||What A Warrior (IRE) 25/1
|PU||Wychwoods Brook 33/1
|PU||Via Sundown (FR) 33/1
|10-9||G L Moore||6|
|PU||Le Reve (IRE) 25/1
D C Costello
|10-8||Mrs L Wadham||6|