Greatrex salutes Oliver Sherwood
Oliver Sherwood's former assistant Warren Greatrex has spoken of his admiration for the way in which his former boss dealt with the devastating loss of Many Clouds at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Many Clouds: A 'jockey's dream' according to Aspell
The Hennessy Gold Cup and Grand National winner had arguably produced a career-best display in beating King George hero and Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack in the Cotswold Chase, only to collapse shortly after crossing the line.
Greatrex, now a successful trainer in his own right, said: "From a personal point of view, Oliver is one of my very good friends and I'm very close to Tarnya (Sherwood's wife) as well.
"I know everyone in that yard, so I know how much they would have been hit by it.
"I used to live with Leighton (Aspell) and to see him like he was, it is devastating.
"Oliver expressed it so well, that they have to enjoy the good times, and that horse was brilliant. He produced every time and like Leighton said he never shirked the issue of a fight and he proved that on Saturday.
"He beat what everyone thought was the unbeatable horse. It was a great spectacle and unfortunately it went the wrong way. It just shows what the horses do for us and how we appreciate them.
"Oliver was absolute class afterwards. For anyone to look up to someone, the way he dealt with it all was just amazing. It shows what a true man he is.
"It was huge when he won the National (in 2015). For Lambourn, which I suppose had been out in the cold for a while since the days of Fred Winter and Fulke Walwyn.
"I remember the day. The amount of people that were out (to welcome him home) was fantastic. The great thing is people will still remember that. He has done extremely well for everybody."
Aspell described Many Clouds as "a jockey's dream".
Aspell partnered the 10-year-old gelding in all of his 27 starts on a racecourse, including on that unforgettable day at Aintree when he delivered a stunning weight-carrying performance in the National.
He told the Times: "For him to have won the way he did was remarkable. The tank was empty but still he gave his all.
"Many Clouds emptied his tank for me many times, and kept coming back for more. He never flinched from a battle.
"It was a privilege to have been part of such a wonderful partnership. He has been wonderful for my career and we had some great times.
"He was the envy of the changing room. Everyone wanted to have a spin on Many Clouds. He was a jockey's dream.
"To have raced at such a high level and stay sound for as long as he did is remarkable and testament to him and his character."
Aspell said he was still "coming to terms with what happened", and that "something drastic happened internally" that led to Many Clouds' death.
He added: "After the line, as we pulled up, he felt as bright as a button, his ears were pricked.
"There was no hint of anything untoward. He was already in recovery mode after such a tough race and he seemed absolutely fine.
"I imagine he had a haemorrhage or ruptured an aorta or had a heart attack.
"You could see instantly he was gone by the look in his eyes and the colour of his gums. We lost him pretty quickly. The lights simply went out."
Champion jockey Richard Johnson also paid tribute to Many Clouds in his Betway blog.
"He was quite simply an amazing horse," said Johnson.
"It's obviously hugely sad what happened, but he and Thistlecrack produced such a great race and it was a brilliant performance. He put absolutely everything he had into that race, he always tried so hard.
"It just goes to show the highs and lows of our sport. You go from the elation of winning a big Cheltenham race to the desolation of losing a horse. It's the hardest thing to deal with.
"To win a Hennessy and then the Grand National, off his weight, was a remarkable achievement. The National is often a career highlight for horses and not many win afterwards, especially not at a high level.
"But not Many Clouds. He came back and won at Kelso last season and then landed both his races this season.
"He was a really brave horse and was expertly handled by Oliver Sherwood and this team. It was a fantastic training performance to win those races and Saturday was probably his best performance on the figures."