04/07/2016 1:03PM

Many Clouds goes for Grand National repeat


Many Clouds tries to become the first horse to win consecutive runnings of the Grand National in more than 40 years when the $1.4 million steeplechase marathon is held at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool, England, on Saturday.

Bettors expect Many Clouds to oblige. As of Thursday, the 9-year-old Many Clouds was the 8-1 favorite in future-book betting to win the Grand National, run at 4 1/4 miles over 30 fences. Post time is 12:15 p.m. Eastern.

Red Rum was the last repeat winner of the Grand National. One of the most popular horses in England in the 1970s, Red Rum won the race in 1973 and 1974 and again in 1977 at the age of 12.

Many Clouds is the 164-pound highweight in the Grand National, a handicap, spotting his 39 rivals from 2 to 22 pounds. Owned by Trevor Hemmings and trained by Oliver Sherwood, Many Clouds has one win in four starts since the 2015 Grand National. The win came in a chase at 2 15/16 miles at Kelso Racecourse in Scotland on March 13.

Many Clouds, an Irish-bred gelding by Cloudings, will be ridden by Leighton Aspell, who won the race on Pineau De Re in 2014 and aboard Many Clouds last year. Aspell can become the first jockey to win three consecutive Grand Nationals. The race was first run in 1839.

The main threat to Many Clouds is Silviniaco Conti, a 10-year-old who will race in the Grand National for the first time. Trained by Paul Nicholls, Silviniaco Conti ran the past three seasons in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, England’s top weight-for-age race. Silviniaco Conti fell in the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup, and was fourth and seventh in 2014 and 2015.

In February, Silviniaco Conti won the Grade 1 Ascot Chase at 2 5/8 miles by 20 lengths. He was 11-1 as of Thursday and will carry 162 pounds.

Other leading contenders are Saint Are, who was second to Many Clouds in 2015 and will carry 145 pounds, and The Last Samuri who won chases at three miles or longer at Kempton Park in December and Doncaster in early March. The Last Samuri will carry 148 pounds.

There will be support for The Druids Nephew, who fell in the 2015 Grand National. The Druids Nephew, who will carry 154 pounds, was second to The Last Samuri at Doncaster.