sport

Sandown target for Many Clouds

Oliver Sherwood has identified the EBF Final at Sandown as a target for Many Clouds following his impressive victory at Ascot on Friday.

The Trevor Hemmings-owned five-year-old was set some stiff tasks in the bumper sphere after making a winning debut at Wetherby in February, but it has not done him any harm judged on his excellent start to his career over obstacles.

After finishing second to the smart Gevrey Chambertin on his hurdling bow at Aintree, Many Clouds had no trouble getting off the mark at the second attempt and his trainer believes there is plenty to look forward to.

Sherwood said: "He had a hard enough race and was a bit wobbly on his feet afterwards, but he's fine now and is just having an easy week.

"He is such a brave horse and he ran a bit with the choke out the other day. I was a bit worried he wouldn't get home on the ground but he did it really well.

"I'll get him back into work next week and he'll tell me when he's ready to run again, but I'd imagine it will be around Christmas time.

"I'd quite like to get him qualified for the EBF Final at Sandown in March, but we'll see how we go. Whether he's up to going to Cheltenham and places like that in the spring only time will tell.

"He's a proper Mr Hemmings horse and he's going to make a lovely chaser all being well."

It could be an exciting season for Sherwood, with the four-year-old Puffin Billy another youngster with a bright future.

He won by some 17 lengths on his Fontwell introduction in March and picked up where he left off when bolting up at Ascot earlier this month.

He could kick off over hurdles at Newbury on Friday.

"He'll school midweek and as long as all goes well there, and I don't see any reason why it won't, then he'll probably go to Newbury," said the trainer.

"We were delighted with him at Ascot, but we were always going to go over hurdles after that. I'm not a big championship bumper fan as I think those races can jazz a horse up a bit too much.

"He was bought to go chasing and I'd rather get his education over hurdles started."

Sherwood feels it is difficult to compare his two prized assets and is just thrilled to have some quality youth in his yard for the first time in a while.

"It's very difficult to tell. Many Clouds has a bit more experience and (Puffin) Billy was a bit more immature last season," he said.

"He (Puffin Billy) will probably stick to two miles for the time being, while Many Clouds has already run over further.

"They are probably similar at the moment and we'll just have to see how they progress. If they turn out to be equally as good I'll be very happy.

"It's been a while since we had horses like Large Action and Berude Not To, so it's nice to have two smart young horses again.

"We can't let Mr (Nicky) Henderson and Mr (Paul) Nicholls win everything!"