Bookies fear National Synchronised gamble as O'Neill ponders Aintree entry
22:32 GMT, 20 March 2012
Synchronised has the potential to be the most heavily backed horse in John Smith Grand National history after trainer Jonjo O’Neill indicated Aintree was still on the agenda for his Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.
Coral claim that the combination of the Gold Cup hero and punter favourite jockey AP McCoy could even outstrip the popularity of the great triple winner Red Rum after his name appeared among the 59 possibles left in the race.
Red Rum’s overwhelming presence in the betting saw him sent off at 7-2 when runner-up to L’Escargot in 1975.
Winning team: Tony McCoy (left) and trainer Jonjo O'Neill with Synchronised
Coral currently have Synchronised as the 8-1 joint favourite with Prince de Beauchene but spokesman Simon Clare said: ‘Make no mistake, if the Gold Cup winner lines up with Tony McCoy on board, he could go off 4-1 or shorter.’
Golden Miller in 1934 was the last horse to win the Gold Cup and National in the same season.
Synchronised, due to carry top weight of 11st 10lb on April 14, has a history of needing time to recover between his races.
Having been raised 7lb for his Gold Cup success, he appears well handicapped but, even with a month gap separating Cheltenham and Aintree this year, O’Neill had previously been cautious in his comments.
Golden moment: Synchronised won the Gold Cup at Cheltenham
However, he adopted a more positive tone when saying: ‘Synchronised has come out of Cheltenham fine. We’ll make a decision nearer the time whether we go or not but there is no reason not to go at the moment. If he comes back to the form he was in at Cheltenham, why wouldn’t you go there’
Synchronised’s stablemate and fellow Cheltenham Festival winner Sunnyhillboy is heading to Aintree and the line-up includes two former winners, Ballabriggs and Mon
Prince De Beauchene is one of six possible runners for Irish trainer Willie Mullins while another hope representing Ireland is Seabass, trained like the 2000 winner Papillon by Ted Walsh.
Contender: Sunnyhillboy (right) will also be heading to Aintree in April
The Gold Cup form is also represented by Nicky Henderson’s fourth-placed Burton Port.
Alan King’s Hold On Julio, who had been a 20-1 chance but was well beaten at Cheltenham, is the most prominent horse in the ante-post betting to be scratched.
Unbeaten novice hurdler Fingal Bay, forced to miss the Cheltenham
Festival with a muscle problem, is on course to run in the John Smith’ s
Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at next month’s Grand National meeting,
according to trainer Philip Hobbs.
Meanwhile, female Flat jockey Cathy Gannon has been given the all-clear to return to action on Friday, five months after breaking her leg.
The Irish-born rider suffered a fractured right femur when unseated from Forever Janay on the way to the start at Nottingham in October. It meant a premature end to what had been her best-ever season with 71 winners.