Ed Chamberlin: Many memories
Ed Chamberlin pays tribute to Many Clouds and Oliver Sherwood after a day of extreme highs and lows at Cheltenham.
Oliver Sherwood with Many Clouds a day after his unforgettable Aintree triumph
We all went to Cheltenham on Saturday excited about watching and televising the best day's racing of the season.
We left without one of the best and most popular horses in training.
Many Clouds bowed out a hero. Doing what he loved and doing what he did best: jumping like a dream, fighting like a tiger, battling to the line and winning. Winning for a 12th and final time.
What happened thereafter was like nothing I have ever experienced in my time presenting sport.
As my colleague Oli Bell so eloquently said, it was "a day we want to forget – a horse we'll never forget".
As always, the entire ITV Racing team met up the evening before to prepare for the show and eat together. We had Ruby, Gillian and Katie Walsh plus Nina Carberry with us to add to the excitement ahead of the thrilling nine-race card, packed full of quality.
All the talk over dinner was about whether Un De Sceaux was a good thing, if Matt Chapman could continue his (annoyingly) good tipping form with Wholestone at 6/1, and speculating how Thistlecrack would jump the Cheltenham ditches. It almost felt like the eve of the Festival.
You could tell it was a big day as everyone arrived at the racecourse early on the Saturday morning and there was a real buzz around the team.
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Then in the early afternoon Cheltenham was bouncing after Un De Sceaux and our studio guest Ruby returned to a huge reception after winning the Clarence House Chase. You could sense the place building to a crescendo with Thistlecrack about to enter the big stage.
What a contrast 30 minutes later. First the joy at two heroic horses battling up the famous hill in the Cotswold Chase. No quarter given in an epic battle.
Then joy then turned to despair.
National Hunt fans truly care and there were tears being shed all around the racecourse. What a sport it is when the defeated Colin Tizzard immediately told Alice: "Two lovely horses ran themselves to the line. It's as sad as can be. Many Clouds was a better horse on the day."
Luke Harvey was in tears as he talked about the horsebox heading home to Oliver Sherwood's Lambourn yard without their stable hero on board and the pain of seeing the empty box when they got there.
Your heart went out Lisa, C-J, Nathan and all those who cared for and loved Many Clouds. Those who were closest to him.
I thought John Gosden had given the finest interview I have seen in racing after winning the 2011 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Nathaniel but losing Rewilding during the race.
Oliver Sherwood was equally good on Saturday.
First, it was a mark of the man, amongst all the emotion, that he came to speak to us in front of the ITV cameras. To then talk so eloquently and in such a heartfelt fashion about the horse he so clearly adored was pure class.
You could feel his sadness but also his determination to remember the good times and the horse's heroics, most notably that famous day at Aintree in 2015. What an ambassador for racing.
What a wonderful send off 'Team Sherwood' then gave Many Clouds in Lambourn on Saturday night.
I'd only met Oliver once before yet he rang me on Monday afternoon to thank the ITV Racing team for the way the day was handled. A totally unnecessary but wonderfully classy gesture.
I'll leave the final words to him, Many Clouds' trainer, when he said "Let's just remember him as a true champ".
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