Preston North End owner Trevor Hemmings’ Vintage Clouds can deliver for trainer Sue Smith
Trainer Sue Smith has her sights set on a second Randox Health Grand National victory, this time with Vintage Clouds, which is owned by Preston North End owner Trevor Hemmings.
Smith enjoyed the biggest victory of her career in the 2013 edition of the world’s greatest chase when outsider Auroras Encore triumphed at 66/1.
Vintage Clouds, in contrast, is the 12/1 fourth favourite with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival, after a series of good performances in staying chases.
The nine-year-old, who ended last season with a creditable third in the Scottish Grand National, began this campaign with victory in a valuable handicap chase over just shy of three and a quarter miles at Haydock Park in November.
Having disappointed in the Welsh Grand National on his next outing, the grey horse showed the benefit of a wind operation when a close second behind Beware The Bear in the G3 Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on March 12.
Vintage Clouds was allotted 10st with a rating of 144 when the weights were announced in February for the £1m Grand National and, following his run at Cheltenham, is officially 5lb well-in as his rating has gone up to 149.
Smith, who is based near Bingley in West Yorkshire said: “Vintage Clouds has come out of Cheltenham in good form. He took that race really well and he had just come back from a small wind op, so we were absolutely delighted with him.
“He jumped great and we couldn’t have asked for more.
“The Grand National at Aintree is now the plan for him and the three-week gap between his last race and Liverpool should be ideal.
“We are easing him back into his usual work routine, but he is fit and should be spot on for the Grand National.”
PNE chief Hemmings is one of only four owners to have won the Randox Health Grand National three times, along with Noel Le Mare (Red Rum 1973, 1974 & 1977), James Machall (1873 Disturbance, 1874 Reugny, 1876 Regal) and Sir Charles Assheton-Smith (1893 Cloister, Jerry M 1912, Covertcoat 1913).
Hemmings tasted success through Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015), and if successful in 2019, he will become the most successful owner in Grand National history.