RACING AHEAD: With Tony McCormick

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Racing pundit Tony McCormick from www.irishbigracetrends.com beforetheoff.com and racing radio station racingfm.com presents his weekly column.

Trainer Oliver Sherwood says 2015 Grand National winner Many Clouds could make his return to action in the Charlie Hall Chase on Saturday, October 31. The son of Cloudings has been given an extended break following his exertions at Aintree in April and only recently completed his first meaningful piece of work.

Lambourn-hander Sherwood says the eight-year-old responded well to the work-out and looks in fine condition ahead of a potential seasonal debut in the Yorkshire showpiece.

The three-mile-one-furlong Grade Two contest is preferred by Sherwood as he looks to get Many Clouds in shape for November’s Hennessy Gold Cup but says his participation at Wetherby is weather dependant. I was working at Wetherby in December 2013 when the then five-year-old, Many Clouds slaughtered the well-fancied Donald McCain-trained Indian Castle by 16 lengths in a Novice Chase.

Chatting to connections that day, a relative and representative of owner Trevor Hemmings told me that they couldn’t be more impressed with the young Cloudings gelding and the aim of the team was to win the 2016 Grand National. The impressive chaser won’t have surprised everyone as he improved and matured to win the world’s most famous steeplechase a year ahead.

Channel 4 sited competition from the Rugby World Cup and the Merseyside derby for a massive 20 per cent fall in viewing figures for Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. An average audience of 288,000 tuned in to watch Derby winner Golden Horn deny Treve a historic third victory in the race, 72,000 less than in 2014. A spokesman for Channel 4 racing, that has already seen their biggest crowd-puller in Claire Balding flee the sinking ship, said they were up against a highly competitive sporting weekend, while pointing out that total TV viewing figures were 12% down anyway.

I find it amazing that a channel of its size failed to point out that Mr Giant Foam Finger man was sat tuned to the country’s biggest channel watching the NFL. They obviously failed to also mention that rather than tune in to watch Emma Spencer and Mick Fitzgerald playing racing phrase bingo – house was called on ‘that’s what’s racing is all about’ - racing fans had the choice of At The Races and Racing UK.

York stages its two-day final meeting of the season on Friday and Saturday with Richard Fahey the man to follow. The master-trainer has had 10 winners from 87 runners at the meeting in the last four years, producing an 11% S/R and a 10.75 point profit.

Keep an eye on John Gosden’s string at the meeting he is three winners from seven runners since 2011, while Mark Johnston boasts a 19% S/R.