Many Clouds first came to my attention when he won the Hennessy. I had missed his seasonal debut at Carlisle, but reviewing it, I was struck with the precision of his jumping, echoed today in his BetBright Chase win.
What impressed me in the Hennessy was his will to win, despite being very tired. He did not jump so well at Newbury as he’d done at Carlisle and perhaps they went a bit quick for him early.
Today I was hugely impressed with everything about him. He jumped beautifully, ears pricked some way from take-off and jumping with precision and efficiency. I prefer horses who jump like that. Sprinter Sacre and a few others can take the breath away at times, but you’re safer with horses who measure every fence confidently and spend little time in the air.
His ears never stopped flicking, showing he was always listening to his fine jockey Leighton Aspell. Between fences he just relaxed and his raking stride did the work naturally, saving much energy. Come battle time, he stretched his neck and they were never going to pass him, and I thought he won with quite a bit in hand.
His trainer Oliver Sherwood does not want fast ground for him in the Gold Cup, but perhaps too much has been made of his disappointing run at Aintree in April. That very tight track would not suit him at all, with the long stride he has. His galloping action does not suggest that he needs deep ground, and they won’t allow it to be faster than genuine good ground at worst in March.
He has everything going for him: jumps soundly, stays, battles, is now close to top class and still improving. His attitude and jumping ability are precious assets. I thought it remarkable how well balanced he was after each jump. For such a big horse, he’s entitled to look awkward at times, but far from it. He took the downhill fence with elan and composure.
I haven’t been so confident I’ve just seen a Gold Cup winner since I watched Denman win his RSA. Many Clouds reminds me of Denman, not least in the way he just lowers his head at the business end and rams his way past the post.
10/1 non runner no bet is available with Paddy Power, and I strongly advise you to take it.
2.05: Cinders & Ashes
2.40: Kings Palace (nap)
3.20 On His Own EW
4.00 Tammys Hill
4.40: Thomas Crapper/Hazy Tom
5.15: Drumshambo/Next Sensation
All pretty speculative bets on this final day, although I fancy Kings Palace quite strongly. He’s the best jumper of hurdles I’ve seen for a staying novice, skipping over them like a champion hurdler (touch wood). The likely short-priced fav, Briar Hill, tends not to pick up his back end when jumping. He’s effective enough, but KP should gain ten lengths on him through his hurdling alone.
I think Bobs Worth will probably win the Gold Cup but wouldn’t tip him at that price. Had he not run inexplicably badly at Haydock in November, I’d have thought him close to unbeatable here. But that poor run – very unlike him – sticks in my mind. Having said that. he’s 5 from 5 here at Cheltenham with 3 of those being wins at the Festival. I have backed him almost a year ago for this at 9/2, but would not tip him at 6/4 – and I have laid my bet off. Had it not been for Haydock, I’d have held onto the whole bet.
On His Own seems finally to be blooming at the age of ten. W Mullins never believes his geese are swans and for him to suggest paying 30k last week to supplement this horse for a pretty hot Gold Cup, well, that alone should be heeded, and I’ve high hopes the horse will place at least and might just make all and hold on.
Fortunately, their bullishness discouraged me from having a bet.
Doubtless trainers set horses up and can occasionally back them with some confidence; but that sort of information, as you know, is very well protected so ‘tips’ – interpreted as “inside information” as such, are pretty worthless.
Well, that’s the disclaimers out of the way! Since starting my blog, I’ve been in touch with numerous journalists and broadcasters and the highly respected Richard Hoiles has been extremely kind and helpful, not least in allowing me to re-publish his List horses.
Anyway, Richard himself has no inside info on this one, but he has put in a hell of a lot of work in digging it out of the ‘Fred Winter’ field, (the 4.40 race next Wednesday). The horse is called Tenor Nivernais. Venetia Williams trains it, and at the time of writing 25/1 non-runner-no-bet is available with Bet 365.
I agreed an embargo with Richard as he was saving this one for his Preview Night audience on Monday – now over as some of you on Twitter will have seen. Given the jollity at some of these events, most will not take action on the tip till some time on Tuesday. If you are reading this late and have an online account, there’s a fair chance these big odds will still be available.
It’s worth scanning Easyodds first. Bear in mind that not all bookmakers are offering NRNB on this race so be wary and double check.
Tenor Nivernais has run twice in the UK, finishing third both times. Of his first run, 2 miles at Wincanton, the Racing Post (RP) said:
Tenor Nivernais looked fascinating on his first start in Britain and travelled strongly for a long way. He became outpaced turning in and seemed no threat, but he found a bit more and started to run on again. He either needed the run after a lengthy break or is in need of further.
His second run was at Taunton where the RP report reads:
The well-backed favourite Tenor Nivernais travelled strongly and had every chance, but couldn’t quicken with the first two. Twice a winner in France, he should continue to be competitive in this sort of race, with a stiffer test likely to suit.
Timeform’s comment on him:
ex-French gelding: fifth foal: dam lightly-raced maiden chaser: successful both starts in juvenile hurdles at Vichy in August for G. Macaire: fairly useful form both starts in handicaps in Britain, good 1½ lengths third of 14 to Karky Schultz at Taunton on latest, again finishing strongly to pull clear of remainder: will be suited by 2½m.
And Timeform’s view of his two races:
01/02/11 TAUNTON: TENOR NIVERNAIS (FR) remains sure to get his head in front in similar company before long, travelling comfortably up with the pace and staying on, a long way clear of the rest; he’ll be at least as effective over further and shapes as though chasing will probably see him to even better advantage.
22/01/11 WINCANTON: TENOR NIVERNAIS (FR) is sure to win races for his new yard (formerly with Guillaume Macaire), shaping well on the back of 2 wins from as many starts in juvenile hurdles in the French Provinces, shuffled back to fifth entering the straight and finishing with encouraging purpose; he jumped fluently and could well benefit from being upped to 2½m
Venetia Williams has trained 5 Cheltenham festival winners in the past 10 years, from 107 runners – a strike rate of 4.7%. Backing all those at Betfair odds yields a profit of 24.6%
This comes with the usual warnings as I know some readers are fairly new to racing. Richard reached his conclusion on this horse after lengthy detective work with his ‘form’ hat on, then put the results of that together with his knowledge and experience and, doubtless, that dash of inspirational intuition we all seek. Let’s hope he is right, but, if you decide to follow this ‘advice’, do not bet more than you can afford to lose.
Good luck and a big