Connections of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised have not ruled out a crack at next month’s John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree.
The nine-year-old powered up the Cheltenham hill to win the Betfred-sponsored feature by just over two lengths on Friday in the hands of Tony McCoy.
Previously a winner of the Welsh Grand National, the Midlands Grand National and this year’s Lexus Chase, Synchronised would shoulder top weight of 11st 10lb at Aintree on April 14.
However, while trainer Jonjo O’Neill has not dismissed the possibility of running, he is keen to see how the horse recovers from his exertions before mapping out a plan.
O’Neill said: “He looks OK. He’s in the National but it’s too early to say at the moment. I’ll have to have a conversation with Frank Berry (racing manager for owner JP McManus).
“We will probably have more of an idea how he’s come out of the race after the weekend. He’s eaten up and he’s looking well.”
Around 100 local people were on hand to view Synchronised as he paraded around the main yard at O’Neill’s Jackdaws Castle base on Saturday morning.
Just a few miles from Cheltenham racecourse, Synchronised was sporting his Gold Cup winner’s rug as O’Neill reflected on a meeting that had also seen him score with Alfie Sherrin and Sunnyhillboy earlier in the week.
“Almost all the horses ran very well all week and I have to credit the staff. They work so many long hours and if you’re paid by the hour in this game, you’d be skint,” he said.
“If you’d talked to me last week I would have been cutting my throat because I’d had a few horses run badly during the week and I was worrying about it. It’s been the sort of week you dream of and you don’t think it will happen.”
O’Neill rode Dawn Run to Gold Cup victory back in 1986 but Synchronised is his first winner of the blue riband as a trainer.
The Sadler’s Wells gelding was also a first winner for McManus and O’Neill admitted the celebrations had carried on late into the night.
He said: “We were at the racecourse for quite a long time and in the weighing room for even longer!
“Then we went off to the Ellenborough Park Hotel where everyone was staying and we were there for a long time.
“I can’t remember much after that but I laid down for a couple of hours, but I was still riding the race and thinking about it.”
McCoy was landing his second Gold Cup with his first win having come aboard Mr Mulligan in 1997 and he hailed the determination of Synchronised.
He said: “The race is the pinnacle of our sport and it’s such a difficult race to win. Since I won it last time I’ve been placed but I’ve been riding against amazing horses like Best Mate and Denman.
“He’s a horse who’s got an enormous heart, even though he doesn’t have the stature or the presence.
“I realise how difficult it is (to win the race). I probably won my first at 22 and you would think it was easy, but you realise that you’ve got no divine right to win horse races.”
The Paul Nicholls-trained Kauto Star will be on parade at his Ditcheat base later today despite his eclipse in the main event.
Winner of the race in 2007 and 2009, Kauto Star overcame a troubled preparation to take his place in the line-up.
However, the 12-year-old was pulled up after nine fences as Ruby Walsh was not happy with him.
Owner Clive Smith admitted he was relieved to see his star performer return home unscathed.
“He’s fine this morning and we’re going to have a bit of parade at the yard this afternoon so I will be seeing him then,” said Smith.
“I’m slightly on a bit of a high today as I’m just relieved that nothing went wrong on the track and he’s back safely. Obviously it would have been nice to win, but that’s racing and we’re just pleased that he’s fine.”
Smith felt the schooling fall that Kauto Star suffered at home three weeks ago had been responsible for his below-par effort and he will not rush any decision on retiring the horse.
“We have agreed that we will just see how he is before we make any decisions,” he added.
“You have to remember he did have that fall at home and while it was only minor, it was a twisting fall, he fell on his nose and landed on his right flank.
“Although he’s had plenty of physio over the last few weeks, we always said there might still be something inside that we couldn’t see and we wouldn’t really know until the race.
“When he overstretched at the water, he just felt a pain, which was always the risk, and Ruby pulled him up. We will just wait and see how he is now and have a good talk about the future.”