OLIVER SHERWOOD has explained Wetherby’s important role in the development of his Hennessy hero Many Clouds who is now a leading contender for next year’s Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The seven-year-old made a winning racecourse debut at the West Yorkshire track in February 2012.
Though Many Clouds lost a novice hurdle to Donald McCain’s Up And Go at Wetherby in January 2013, the Trevor Hemmings-owned horse gave an early glimpse of his class when running away with the William Hill Novices’ Chase on day two of the Yorkshire track’s Christmas meeting last December.
Though this was only a three-runner race, Many Clouds finished a wide-margin 16 lengths ahead of McCain’s Indian Castle who was unplaced in last month’s Paddy Power Gold Cup.
“I’m a great believer in giving horses confidence,” Sherwood said. “If they can win easy races, it is very good for a horse’s confidence.
“His first ever race was at Wetherby in a Bumper. He is a big horse and you wouldn’t want to be going around a Plumpton or Fakenham – no disrespect to those courses – with him.
“A big galloping track suits him far better than a tight track. If there was a Gold Cup at Fakenham, I wouldn’t run there.
“Most horses, I believe, know when they have won. It’s no different to a cricketer scoring runs or a footballer scoring goals. There’s nothing better than scoring a century – or getting the winning goal in an important match.”
Though Sherwood says he would have been disappointed if his stable star had not finished in the first four in Saturday’s Hennessy Gold Cup, he is still slightly disbelieving that he has won Newbury’s heritage handicap for a second time following Arctic Call’s success 24 years previously.
As for the future, Sherwood was pleased to report that Many Clouds was sound and holds an entry in Ireland’s Grade One Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28.
However he suggested that Cheltenham’s Gold Cup trial in late January, or the Denman Chase back at Newbury in February, might be the next targets.
“He’s absolutely A1 which has surprised me. I thought he’d be lying down for 48 hours,” added Sherwood.
“Handicaps are out of the question now – I don’t think we’ll be back at Wetherby this season!
“I’d have thought the handicapper will put him up something like 6lb to 10lb. He’s got to go for these conditions races, so the Gold Cup does come into the equation.
“He has got to improve more again to warrant a place in the Gold Cup, but who’s to say he won’t, and the dream is still alive.”