GOLD CUP

Mccoy springs sur­prise while Scot sad­dles first Fes­ti­val win­ner.

The Herald - Herald Sport - - Front Page - WHITE AND GOLD

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.”

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