It has been a pretty quiet week for me since all of that excitement at the Festival, but I certainly took great heart from reading Jonjo O’Neill’s comments about Synchronised on Wednesday.
He said that, in his opinion, the chances of the Gold Cup winner reappearing in the John Smith’s Grand National on April 14 were pretty good, which was a great boost for me. What I can tell you is that the horse’s welfare will definitely come first. Jonjo is a great judge and I will never forget how he steered me towards Don’t Push It before he won the National two years ago. So, if he thinks Synchronised is a National horse that is good enough for me.
As I told you in last week’s column, Jonjo was also very bullish about Synchronised leading up to the Gold Cup. In fact, in the 10 days before the big day, he could not have been more optimistic and encouraging, so once again his judgment was spot on.
I suppose I could simplify the whole process by just leaving the choice of my Grand National mount entirely to him. I should probably turn up at Aintree and ask Jonjo: “Which one am I riding?”
They say that horses make fools of all of us and I have no hesitation in saying that Synchronised is definitely a horse that keeps producing surprises. A lot of people have been reminding me that when the whip-rule controversy blew up I said in these pages that he would probably struggle to win another race as he needed a lot of stoking up.
Well that is what I believed at the time, but in fairness to me and the horse, everything about him has improved. He has become sharper in himself, and it’s right that he should be celebrated for his Gold Cup win.
He’s completely different to Don’t Push It, who was a hyperactive lunatic, without being too unkind to him. Synchronised is the opposite. He is real laid back and does not do anything flash at home. You would not even know he was there, he is so inconspicuous. Yet, his performance to win the Gold Cup for J P McManus, my boss, and Jonjo, will never be forgotten by any of us.
There has not been a final decision yet on whether Synchronised will definitely run, although all the right noises are being made. Obviously, Jonjo would like him to run, but we will have to wait and see how the horse is going nearer the time.
The John Smith’s Grand National, with prize money just short of £1 million, is the richest jump race in Britain or Ireland, and Synchronised is well handicapped for this year’s race. He has to give Midnight Chase only 2lb at Aintree and had that horse 30 lengths behind at level weights in the Gold Cup.
At this stage I have another couple of Grand National options. Sunnyhill Boy, who is a good stayer on the whole, although he is on the small side – he’s even smaller than Synchronised – and Quiscover Fontaine, who has shown promise in staying races in Ireland.
These next three weeks are crucial for them, but following Cheltenham, it can’t come quick enough for me.
I’ve found winners hard to come by lately, but at least I have four rides with a bit of a chance at Newbury on Saturday. The best of them is probably Malt Master (3.10), who showed promise when he won at Newcastle in November. Nicky Henderson has been patient with him and he can go close.
Xenophon (1.30) is certain to like the drying ground, as well as the trip, but Nicky’s horse One Lucky Lady is the one we all have to beat.
Cross The Flags (2.40) has become a very interesting member of the team as she is a half-sister to Synchronised. I am worried about the lively ground for her. Snake Eyes (4.50) is owned by John Magnier and I’m hoping he is a nice horse. He is bred for the game, that’s for sure.
I’m off to Wincanton for one ride on Sunday and I’m hopeful that Sonoran Sands (2.25) will make the trip worthwhile.
imo has a huge advantage over the field in many respects. 14.5 on the bot now. any negatives would be the 11-10 but the way he finished with 11-10 in the gold cup wouldnt be putting me off.
5/1 on the day is a distinct possibility.
imo has a huge advantage over the field in many respects.14.5 on the bot now.any negatives would be the 11-10but the way he finished with 11-10 in the gold cupwouldnt be putting me off.5/1 on the day is a distinct possibility.
TRAINER Jonjo O'Neill on Monday played down the drift on the exchanges for John Smith's Grand National contender Sunnyhillboy.
The JP McManus-owned nine-year-old, who won the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, is 16-1 with William Hill for the Aintree marathon, but was trading at around double that on the exchanges.
"Somebody told me that and I've no idea to be honest," said O'Neill, who saddled Don't Push It to win the National in 2010. "I didn't even know about. He's in good shape. As far as the horse is concerned he's fine."
O'Neill could also run Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised in the National, as well as Arbor Supreme.
Like O'Neill, Gordon Elliott has also trained a National winner - Silver Birch in 2007 - and he thinks Chicago Grey will go well provided he gets into a good tempo.
"If he gets into a nice, early rythym I think he'll run a massive race," Elliott said of his runner, who was backed into 14-1 with a few bookmakers over the weekend.
"The first four or five fences are going to be very important."
O'Neill plays down Sunnyhillboy drift By James Burn racingpost.com2:30PM 2 APR 2012 TRAINER Jonjo O'Neill on Monday played down the drift on the exchanges for John Smith's Grand National contender Sunnyhillboy.The JP McManus-owned nine-year-old, who
A decision whether Jonjo O'Neill's Synchronised will try to become the first horse since Golden Miller in 1934 to land the Cheltenham Gold Cup-Grand National double should be announced later this week. Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, said: 'It could be a midweek decision. We'll speak to the boss but the horse is in really good form.'
Synchronised, who would be ridden by AP McCoy, is now 10-1 joint favourite with David Pipe's Junior after Prince De Beauchene was ruled out of the race. Before Aintree, McCoy must choose a mount for the Irish National a week on Monday with his options including O'Neill's Cheltenham Festival winner Alfie Sherrin, Catch Me and Groody Hill.
McCoy said: 'I don't know what I will ride but I dread getting off any staying chaser trained by Jonjo O'Neill.'
A decision whether Jonjo O'Neill's Synchronised will try to become the first horse since Golden Miller in 1934 to land the Cheltenham Gold Cup-Grand National double should be announced later this week. Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus,
Connections of Synchronised have confirmed the Cheltenham Gold Cup hero as an intended runner in Saturday's John Smith's Grand National.
The Jonjo O'Neill-trained nine-year-old ran out a determined winner of steeplechasing's blue riband at Prestbury Park last month, given an inspired ride by champion jockey Tony McCoy.
Golden Miller is the only horse in history to have followed up Gold Cup success with Aintree glory in the same season, securing the double in 1934.
Provided Synchronised pleases in a midweek workout, he will bid to follow in that legendary chaser's hoofprints.
Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, said: "At the minute, the plan is for him to go. He just has to do a little bit (of work) during the week to make sure Jonjo's happy with him."
Berry also confirmed that last month's Kim Muir Chase winner Sunnhillboy remains on course for the world's most famous steeplechase.
"Sunnyhillboy is in good order and he definitely goes to Aintree," he added.
sportinglife.comConnections of Synchronised have confirmed the Cheltenham Gold Cup hero as an intended runner in Saturday's John Smith's Grand National.The Jonjo O'Neill-trained nine-year-old ran out a determined winner of steeplechasing's blue riban