Many Clouds wins Premier Chase in Grand National warm-up

Many Clouds ridden by Leighton Aspell
Many Clouds won by a length and three-quarters at Aintree so give Aspell his second successive National triumph

Grand National winner Many Clouds warmed up for his Aintree defence next month with a flawless jumping display to win the Premier Chase at Kelso.

The nine-year-old had failed to win in three races since last April but surged home by 10 lengths over two miles and seven furlongs on soft ground.

Unioniste, who also holds a National entry, stayed on well from last place to finish second, Carrigdhoun three-quarters of a length away in third.

This year's National is on 9 April.

Many Clouds, trained by Oliver Sherwood and ridden by Leighton Aspell, is clear favourite to become the first back-to-back National winner since the legendary Red Rum in 1973 and '74.

In the Scottish borders he kicked on at the seventh fence after shadowing Carrigdhoun in the early stages, Sausalito Sunrise challenging but unable to cope when Aspell asked for acceleration.

Analysis from BBC racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

"Wow: I can't recall enjoying a round of jumping like the one put in by Many Clouds for a long time.

"The horse was foot perfect, demonstrating his full repertoire from the fast and economical jump to the big and extravagant; it was breathtaking stuff that no opponent could live with and bodes exceptionally well for the return to Aintree.

"It also gives a nice boost to Gold Cup hope Smad Place who comfortably swept aside Many Clouds when they met at Cheltenham in January."

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