When Many Clouds won the 2015 Grand National in such impressive style, it came as a bit of a shock to the students of Grand National form through the years due to the weight he was carrying. The eight-year-old, 25-1 shot won by 1¾ lengths from Saint Are, with Monbeg Dude a further six lengths away in third and Alvarado finishing fourth for the second year in succession.
having a munch on the @AintreeRaces turf after last year’s National @tarnyasherwood <ahref=”https://twitter.com/SherwoodRacing”>@SherwoodRacing <ahref=”https://t.co/AcehyBf2Iy”>pic.twitter.com/AcehyBf2Iy
Harris (@mjyharris) March 23,
What makes Many Clouds’ win so interesting is that he was carrying 11 stones 9lbs, which was the highest winning weight since the legendary Red Rum won his second Grand National way back in 1974.
And what makes this year’s race equally interesting is that Many Clouds has only been given one more pound to carry by the handicapper for the 2016 National. This could give him a real chance.
When Red Rum won his first Grand National in 1973, he carried just 10 stones 5lbs but was given the full 12 stones to carry the following year. This kind of penalty is very much par for the course. When Pineau de Re won in 2014, he carried 10 stones 6lbs to victory which is around the mean average National winning weight. But he had to lug an additional eight pounds over 30 of the toughest fences in steeplechasing in last year’s race so his eventual 12th place was very creditable for the then 12-year-old.
So maybe Many Clouds will become the first horse since Red Rum to win two Nationals? Indeed, that thought is echoed if you judge it by a glance at the runners and riders listed on http://www.grand-national2016.co.uk/. It reveals the 2015 winner is listed as 8-1 in the market at the time of writing to repeat his success.
Many Clouds is also now a nine-year-old, which is an even better age to win a Grand National, according to the history books. The average age of the winner over the last 20 running’s of the great race is 10.8 and only two 12 year olds and three eight year olds have won in the last 30 years. Older horses don’t have sufficient stamina whilst the younger horses don’t have the requisite experience.
But perhaps last year’s runner-up, Saint Are, can put a spanner in the works and do a bit of a Red Rum? Beaten by less than two lengths by Many Clouds, the now 10-year-old stayed on well last year and will carry 10 stones, 5lbs, which is one pound less than for the 2015 race. At the current price of around 20-1, the Tom George-trained Saint Are probably represents better value than Many Clouds.
If either horse won, it would be the most remarkable Grand National feat since Red Rum’s back-to-back victories. Surely no horse will ever be this good again at Aintree but the handicapper has certainly given Many Clouds the best chance for a long time to win two in a row.