BREEDER Aidan Aherne hailed Many Clouds as "a people's horse" after the 2015 Grand National's hero sudden death following his shock defeat of Thistlecrack in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham.
While lovers National Hunt racing are still coming to terms with the loss of a horse that epitomised the sport, Aherne can reflect with pride upon the career of Many Clouds.
"He was a people's horse, and probably the greatest National winner since Red Rum," Aherne told Press Association Sport. "He always gave his all - every day of his life."
That colourful life began at Aherne's Windward House Stud in County Cork on April 21, 2007, after the successful mating between Cloudings and the mare Bobbing Back. From day one, Aherne had an inkling the young horse was special and was delighted when Trevor Hemmings agreed to buy him.
"Even as a foal, he looked like a good horse. He was a big enough foal and looked nice and had a nice walk," he said. "I persuaded Trevor Hemmings to buy him and the rest, as they say, is history."
Aherne followed Many Clouds' career every step of the way - right from his debut success in a Wetherby bumper five years ago to the heady heights of victories in the Hennessy Gold Cup and Grand National, to his dramatic final appearance on Saturday.
"Oliver Sherwood always said he was a horse that would go over a cliff for you. On Saturday, he went over that cliff and went out battling," he said.
"From the day he won his bumper at Wetherby, I was there with him all the way. I feel very sorry for all the people who were with him every day of his life. To Oliver, to Trevor, to Leighton Aspell - the only jockey to ever ride him - to CJ (Chris Jerdin), Lisa (Kozak) and Nathan (Horrocks), my heart goes out to them.
"He was 10 years old and probably going down the hill, but who is to say he couldn't have won the Gold Cup?Compared to the flat game, people get attached to National Hunt horses as they are around a lot longer, and people definitely grew attached to Many Clouds."
Aherne has the family and is already looking forward to future generations. He added: "His mother is in foal to Milan and I also have his four-year-old half-sister, who is due in February, so the legacy and the family live on."