Many Clouds won the Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree for trainer Oliver Sherwood and last year’s winning jockey Leighton Aspell.
Successful aboard Pineau De Re 12 months ago, Aspell was never too far off the pace and Many Clouds, winner of the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury earlier in the season and sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, jumped with aplomb throughout.
For a long way it appeared Shutthefrontdoor could provide Tony McCoy with a fairytale second National triumph before his retirement, but he eventually weakened into fifth place.
Many Clouds tired from the elbow, but had enough in the tank to hold off Saint Are, with Monbeg Dude third and Alvarado fourth.
Aspell said: “It was wonderful and we will certainly celebrate tonight. I asked some big questions, but he dug deep.
“We really refreshed and recharged his battery, and I tried to conserve energy. He is all heart - all season he has had hard races.
“Win lose or draw, that’s the best ride I have had in the National. I just hoped his battery life lasted out and it did. “
The win was a third in the National for owner Trevor Hemmings after Hedgehunter (2005) and Ballabriggs (2011).
Sherwood said: “I can’t believe it, it was some spin. All I wanted was the horse to come back in one piece.
“He was foot-perfect and didn’t make a mistake. I thought it was a year too soon, but he was fit and healthy and it was Trevor’s decision - he must get all the credit.
“The horse has been unbelievable all season, he has blossomed all year - he just got out of bed the wrong way in the Gold Cup.
“I didn’t show him any National fences on purpose, I thought he had just gone over the top before the Gold Cup.”