Mccoy springs surprise while Scot saddles first Festival winner.
TONY MCCOY claimed the second Cheltenham Gold Cup of his career yeasterday as Synchronised showed reservoirs of stamina in the premier race of the National Hunt calendar.
Trained by Jonjo O’neill and owned by legendary gambler JP Mcmanus, the 8-1 chance had too much raw grit for big outsider The Giant Bolster. Long Run, last year’s winner, finished third.
Synchronised’s two-anda-quarter-length victory, no matter how impressive, was nonetheless slightly dampened af t e r t wotimes Gold Cup winner Kauto Star was pulled up at the ninth fence by Ruby Walsh. After what is almost certain to have been the iconic horse’s last race, the grandstands applauded Kauto Star off the track.
His owner, Clive Smith, said it was “90% certain” Paul Nicholls’ 12-year-old would be retired.
He said: “What a great career he’s had and he’s been a wonderful horse. I’ve been so proud to own him and also the support of everybody has been absolutely tremendous.
“I would say it’s 90% certain that he will be retired. Someone will have to come up with a very good reason for me not to retire him.”
Midnight Chase set out to make all of the running and initiated a strong pace, with Kauto Star and Long Run close up.
There was drama at the second fence when What Afriend, part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, fell.
Soon after, it became evident Walsh was not happy with Kauto Star and pulled him up.
The Giant Bolster then looked like landing a major surprise as he took the lead on the turn for home. Long Run was in the front rank, but Sam Waley-cohen was hard at work on him and he failed to show the same acceleration that won the race 12 months ago.
Burton Port also tried to close, but Synchronised was delivered to perfection by Mccoy as his stamina proved crucial.
Mccoy, whose sole Gold Cup success came in 1997 on Mr Mulligan, said: “He was off the bridle the whole way and, when I missed the third-last, I thought my chance had gone.
“He’s an amazing horse and it was an amazing p e r f o r mance. I’m so pleased to win it for JP as he has been so good to me.
“Jonjo has done an incredible job. I’ve got a Grand National and a Gold Cup out of the man and I love him to bits.”
O’neill, after his first Gold Cup victory as a trainer, added: “AP was brilliant on him, he knows him so well.
“I knew the one thing he would do is stay – our big worry was keeping him in the race as, if he makes mistakes, he gets behind. A lot of work has gone into him at home so it was a great team effort from the yard.
“He only came right in last 10 days or so and we weren’t really confident. He flowered in the last few days and it was spot-on timing.”
David Bridgwater said of runner-up The Giant Bolster: “He was brilliant, but I’ve always said this is an exceptionally good horse and he should have been about 16-1, not 50s.
“Hopefully, we will be back here next year and, hopefully, there will be some big races to win before then.”
Henderson said of the defeated champion, Long Run, and fourth-placed Burton Port: “I’m thrilled with my two boys and I have to give credit to the winners. JP is one of the stalwarts of National Hunt racing and Jonjo and AP are superstars.”