'He gave a lot of people a lot of pleasure and won't be forgotten'
Groom Chris 'CJ' Jerdin, who looked after Many Clouds since his arrival in Oliver Sherwood's yard, reflects on the loss of the popular chaser
Clouds was a tall, gangly horse and I never thought he'd turn out like he did – you never think they'll win a Grand National.
At the beginning he was a nervous horse and if you said boo he'd jump six foot in the air, but once he got to know you he was pretty good and easy to look after – he wouldn't hurt a fly. He loved the attention and cameras and people visiting him; a little girl was due to come to see him next week, but she won't be able to now.
He was always going to be a chaser and loved his jumping, which stood him in good stead in the National.
I remember I was ill on the day with food poisoning and once he was bedded down for the day I told our travelling head girl Lisa Kozak to call me at 1pm to get him ready.
I wasn't nervous because I didn't expect him to win, but he did. And then he had that wobble and knocked me down, but Alice Plunkett was very good and looked after me.
I've watched the National all my life and it's great when the winner comes in with the police horses. I didn't get the chance because of that wobble, but I thought I'd get another this season.
When he came back in he looked fitter than the previous year. He'd had his wind op and his demeanour was completely different, so I was expecting big things of him –– I think the guv'nor was as well –and I like to think he's proved us right because he's beaten one of the best horses people are saying they've seen.
'He's certainly the best I've done'
Clouds is certainly the best I've done. I can’t speak for the guv'nor, but I'd think he's the best horse he's trained and Saturday was his best performance.
It took us five minutes to get him into Cheltenham because people wanted pictures as he came off the box. I've never had a horse with so much public affection like he had.
After the race, Leighton [Aspell] said he'd gone and I regret not patting him – I just went away too upset and I wish I'd said goodbye.
I didn't go into the yard this morning and it hit me last night when we got back and saw his box and knew it was never going to be used by him again. That was really upsetting for me and Lisa.
I lost a horse four years ago and someone said you should be used to it now at your age. I'm 62 and have been in the sport since I was 15, but you never get to used to it and if you do you shouldn't be working with animals.
Ninety-nine point nine per cent of racehorses are the best-kept animals in the world and the vets at Cheltenham, and at Aintree after the National, were second to none – they looked after him fantastically.
He wanted for nothing and meant everything to me. He was the reason I enjoyed going to work, now it's going to be very difficult, but he won't be forgotten.
I wasn't looking forward to retirement because I love racing so much and Clouds made it easier for me. I won't get another like him and I'm due to retire in two years, when he would’ve been 12, so I was hoping we could go out together. It broke my heart. I’m old-school, but you never get over it.
My favourite memory of him was that he gave a lot of people a lot of pleasure. People came to see him every week and I'm very proud and humbled to be associated with him.
Someone said on TV Thistlecrack's vulnerable now and people will take him on, but I hope Mr Tizzard wins the Gold Cup because that'd prove what we thought of Clouds. He wasn't a good horse, he was a great horse.