THE worst kept secret in local racing came to fruition when Lambourn trainer Oliver Sherwood saddled Many Clouds to win the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury.
The Rhonehurst master last won Newbury’s showpiece in 1990 with Arctic Call, but Many Clouds had gathered local support in the run-up to Saturday’s spectacular as the going softened and eventually proved to be a testing track for the runners throughout the day.
And Many Clouds had the stamina under Leighton Aspell to outlast his rivals, including Tony McCoy on Jonjo O’Neill’s Merry King, which finished third, with Venetia Williams’ Houblon Des Obeaux under Aidan Coleman more than three lengths distant.
“I'm just chuffed to bits,” said Sherwood. “He's a very, very tough horse.
“I thought we were beat but Leighton galvanised him.”
The trainer was concerned about the effort put in by his horse however, and added: “It will take him a long time to get over that.”
Jockey Aspell earned a reprimand for his ride, and was banned for seven days and fined £1,800 by the stewards for over-use of the whip.
Last year’s winner, Nicky Henderson’s Triolo D’Alene., was pulled up three from home after laboring down the long run-in.
Marlborough trainer Alan King won the other main feature, the bet365 Long Distance Hurdle, when his Medinas out-paced Cole Harden from Warren Greatrex’s Lambourn yard and 4/7 favourite More of That under Tony McCoy to claim the £40,000 race.