The racing industry and his followers were saddened by the death of Many Clouds early last week. As he is fondly remembered by the thousands who followed his career, we hear from those closest to him as we pay tribute to the racehorse described by those who looked after him as ‘one in a million’.
From humble beginnings
Many Clouds or ‘Clouds’ as he was known on the yard, arrived at Rhonehurst Stables as a 3 year old in 2010 and was instantly put under the care of CJ. Looking back, CJ describes Clouds as a ‘gangly unfurnished baby’ who was ‘very timid and almost scared of his own shadow’. Over the years, Clouds built strong bonds with CJ, trainer Oliver Sherwood, Travelling Head Groom, Lisa Kozak, and regular work rider Nathan Horrocks. He was a unique horse but also a true friend to everyone who was lucky enough to work alongside him. Clouds went on to win numerous top races including the Grand National and the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup. In fact, he was the only horse to go on to win graded races following the great victory of winning the Grand National.
Clouds had many funny quirks including ‘smacking his lips together’ as if to say ‘look at me’ when saddled up at the races. At home, CJ would have to ensure his feed was always placed directly next to his water bucket so he could dunk his lips in between munching mouthfuls of food. With a giggle and a smile on his smile, CJ remembers Clouds as being ‘such a messy devil’ that he had to clean his water bucket several times day.
Over the years many people will have assumed that Lisa was talking to herself on the yard late at night when in fact, she was having a discussion with Clouds. Lisa would return home from racing when the yard was dark and still and having heard the lorry, Clouds would turn his own stable light on. Lisa would say ‘turn your light off Clouds I’m going home now’ and although he would sometimes oblige, more often than not he would win the argument and insist she came over to give him a polo mint, a scratch on the neck and a goodnight kiss. After this, he would be happy enough to turn off his own light and go to bed.
Adored by the public
Clouds had a huge fan base which included regular weekend visitors to the yard. Never one to disappoint his adoring public, he would stand looking out of his box ‘smiling’, ears pricked and would pose for the endless cameras. You could also gain extra brownie points by giving him a juicy red apple – carrots didn’t quite hit the spot!
Lisa and CJ catered for Clouds’ every individual need. Lisa explained “Clouds never travelled light, in fact he was the only one to have his own suitcase!” He had personalised travel rugs, boots and personalised brow band in his owners’ colours too.
Lisa and CJ both had their own set of rituals when it came to caring for Clouds which, for CJ, included a full shampoo and set on race days and endless grooming before he went out on exercise. Clouds always had a fresh straw bed which he loved but most of it ended up in his long black tail! Lisa cherishes the personal, quiet moments they shared whilst she plaited him up on race days, and felt this gave him a well-earned hour of peace before a race. Clouds would relax his neck, lower his head and nudge her affectionately between each plait.
Clouds enriched the lives of so many people, from those who watched him jump to the people who cared for him on a daily basis; creating memories that will be forever held dear in their hearts. It is with great sadness but also tremendous gratitude and affection, that those who were lucky enough to work alongside him look back and remember the horse that was an amazing athlete but most importantly, a true friend.
Do you have your own fond memories of Many Clouds? We’d love to hear them.