Protektorat cruises to 25-length Many Clouds Chase win

While testing conditions were the undoing of many at Aintree on Saturday, Protektorat produced a touch of class to deliver a scintillating performance and win the Many Clouds Chase by 25 lengths. 

The Dan Skelton-trained runner handled the step up in trip with ease at the Merseyside track and showed no signs of slowing as he powered clear under Bridget Andrews. 

Native River, who made all for much of the 3m1f contest, was unable to hold on to the eventual winner turning for home while Sam Brown came home a distant third as the only other finisher in the race.

Andrews said: "He's got an unbelievable amount of talent. We've always known it but he has been keen in the past and we were just trying to use it right. That was my only concern today.

Aintree 2.05: Many Clouds Chase full result and replay

"He's a big strong horse and I'm not very big. We went a sensible gallop but he's got a high cruising speed and all he does is keep going. He was doing a half-speed and I couldn't go any slower and in the end I just let him go to the front."

With Native River and Wishing And Hoping setting the early pace, Protektorat began to turn on the pressure down the backstretch and quickly proved too much of a challenge for his rivals, stretching away with ease from 2019 winner Native River and stamping his credentials in the staying chase division. 

The six-year-old was cut to 8-1 (from 25) with Paddy Power for the Ryanair Chase in March, with a possible tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup no doubt in the minds of connections after the dominant display. 

When asked about Protektorat's potential in the Gold Cup, for which he was cut into a top-priced 20-1 (from 50s) Andrews added: "There's a possibility he'll be on that way."

Winner of the Grade 1 Manifesto Novices' Chase at the course in April, the 4-1 shot finished second on his seasonal reappearance when sent off favourite for the Paddy Power Gold Cup last month. 

While that November contest was a close-fought affair, Saturday's performance was anything but, with Skelton’s first runner in the Grade 2 contest taking victory in splendid isolation and Native River finishing another 22 lengths clear of third-placed Sam Brown. 

Dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll was among the first to struggle in the gruelling conditions at Aintree, eventually being pulled up by James Bowen before the tenth fence. 

Trainer Gordon Elliot, who was busy enjoying a spectacular day with seven winners at Navan, said: "The ground had gone very soft over there which was not ideal, so we are where we are. It definitely won't be his last race."

Tiger Roll was one of four runners pulled up in the race alongside Imperial Aura, Simply The Betts and Wishing And Hoping. 

The Nicky Martin-trained The Two Amigos was the only faller in the field, coming down at the 12th fence after failing to make an impression throughout the race.