Can Cloudy Glen hand Williams her second National winner?
Venetia Williams created history in 2009 by training the 100/1 outsider Mon Mome to victory in the Grand National. The bay gelding became the longest-priced winner alongside Foinavon in the history of the illustrious event when he cantered to victory 12 lengths ahead of the rest of the field. It was one of the biggest surprises in the history of the sport, never mind the Grand National. Mon Mome continued his excellence on the track by attempting the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following year, finishing third. In the highly competitive world of British Jump racing, Williams has not struck so lucky since, but one horse could bring back memories of 2009 due to his performance on the track this term.
Ladbroke Trophy winner Cloudy Glen offers Williams her best chance to win the National since Mon Mome’s triumph as the bay gelding is best priced at 25/1 in horse racing betting odds for the event. Talented competitors are already positioning themselves for the sport’s ultimate crown, but the National is the great equaliser in terms of quality. The best horse racing tips will tell you that the favourite is not always the top competitor to back in the National, and that slight outsiders such as Cloudy Glen can prevail.
The bay gelding has come a long way to break into contention, especially since he was off the boil for the majority of the last campaign. The 2020/21 season was one of disappointment for Williams’ charge, although it began with a fine victory at Fontwell in the Southern National Handicap Chase. However, he was unable to build on that performance in the London National and the Welsh Grand National, finishing 11th in the latter at Chepstow over last Christmas. Cloudy Glen then unseated Tom Scudamore in the Swinley Chase at Ascot ahead of Cheltenham Festival. The eight-year-old did put forward a solid effort at Cheltenham in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase, but was unable to challenge Mount Ida for the win, placed 6 1/2l off the pace in second.
The season ended with the ultimate disappointment as Cloudy Glen was not right from the off at Aintree in his final race of the term, and was pulled up by Charlie Deutsch three fences from the end of the contest. It was clear that all was not right with Cloudy Glen at the end of the campaign and he underwent wind surgery before his first race of the 2021/22 term in an attempt to resolve his breathing issues.
It appears to have worked wonders for the eight-year-old as he excelled in his first race of the campaign at Newbury. He was a 33/1 outsider for the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase, but he unleashed an outstanding display to beat out a talented field, including Fiddlerontheroof and Cloth Cap to win the contest. Cloudy Glen now has momentum to take forward for the rest of the season.
Williams has to be careful regarding selection of races for her charge for fear of receiving an unattractive weight. She could send him to Cheltenham once more in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup or even the Cross Country Chase. Equally, following recent announcements, races like the Coral Chase at Kempton in late February or Doncaster’s Grimthorpe Chase in early March would also be suitable.Alternatively he might be better focused solely on the National. Williams has the experience to make the right choice and if her charge performs like he did at Newbury, she could well have a second Grand National winner on her hands.
During his lifetime, owner Trevor Hemmings was among the most popular of winning owners, with horses spread across a great many trainers. He’d already enjoyed National success but Cloudy Glen will surely bring out that twinkle in his eye up there at St Peter’s Gate next April.