04/11/2015 1:56PM

Many Clouds wins Grand National steeplechase


Many Clouds, the 163-pound second highweight, gave jockey Leighton Aspell his second consecutive win in the $1,469,200 Grand National steeplechase at 4 7/16ths miles at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool, England on Saturday.

An 8-year-old Irish-bred gelding, Many Clouds always was near the front of the 39-horse field, took the lead with about six furlongs and five fences remaining, and won by 1 3/4 lengths over Saint Are.

Many Clouds paid 25-1 with bookmakers and was sent off at 31.9-1 through the pari-mutuel system.

There were 19 finishers, including the 6-1 favorite Shutthefrontdoor, who ran fifth. Shuttthefrontdoor was the 20th and final ride in the Grand National for jockey A.P. McCoy, the all-time winningest steeplechase rider who is retiring this month. McCoy has won more than 4,300 races.

Many Clouds is trained by Oliver Sherwood for Trevor Hemmings, and was the first Grand National win for the trainer. Aspell won the race in 2014 with Pineau de Re, who finished 12th this year under jockey Daryl Jacob.

Many Clouds was the third Grand National winner for Hemmings, who won with Hedgehunter in 2005 and Ballabriggs in 2011. Hemmings is a real estate investor who owns the Preston North End soccer team in England.

Many Clouds was only sixth in the $825,000 Cheltenham Gold Cup at 3 1/4 miles March 14, the sport’s most prestigious weight-for-age race. In the Grand National, the sport’s leading handicap and most famous race, the weights ranged from the 164 pounds carried by Lord Windermere, who was pulled up on the second of two circuits, to the 142 pounds carried by three runners, including the sixth-place finisher Royale Knight.

There were no fatal injuries among the 39 runners in the grueling race, although Balthazar King, who was second in the 2014 Grand National, was transported to a local equine hospital after the race following a fall on the first circuit. Jockey Davy Condon, who rode Portrait King, a faller with three fences remaining, was taken to a hospital for observation.

Many Clouds has won 9 of 20 starts in his career, including the prestigious Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury Racecourse last November and the BetBright Cup Chase at Cheltenham in January.