O’Neill keen on National bid for Synchronised

Trainer Jonjo O’Neill is keen for Synchronised to attempt to become just the second horse in history to land the John Smith’s Grand National and the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season.

O’Neill said yesterday he saw “no reason” not to run in the Aintree marathon on April 14.

Golden Miller, the winner of five consecutive Gold Cups [1932-36], is the only horse to complete the double when winning at Aintree in 1934 and despite connections of recent Gold Cup winners rarely considering a tilt at the National, O’Neill thinks it’s the obvious race for the JP McManus-owned nine-year-old.

“Synchronised has come out of Cheltenham fine and we’ll make a decision nearer the time whether we go or not but there’s no reason why not at the moment,” said the trainer.

“He’s in great form and if he comes back to the form he was in at Cheltenham then why wouldn’t you go there?

“He’s been left in but we’ll wait until nearer the time before we make any decisions,” said Frank Berry, racing manager for JP McManus.

The same owner and trainer won the National with Don’t Push It in 2010 and could have another leading hope in Sunnyhillboy, who was also a winner at Cheltenham last week in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup.

“He’s also come out of the race good,” said Frank Berry, racing manager for JP McManus. “He’s in the National and the Irish National and he’ll probably run in one of those. Nothing is set in stone yet.”

Synchronised was among 59 horses left in the Aintree spectacular at the latest scratchings stage and heads the weights on 11st 10lb, with last year’s winner Ballabriggs on 11st 9lb.

Betfred make Prince De Beauchene the 9-1 second favourite and he is one of six left in from Willie Mullins’ stable and one of 23 Irish-trained entries still in the race.

On His Own, winner of the Thyestes Chase for owners Graham and Andrea Wylie, and Gold Cup ninth The Midnight Club are among Mullins’ other entries.

Other Irish-trained contenders include the progressive Seabass, trained like the 2000 winner Papillon by Ted Walsh, and the 2011 Irish Grand National hero Organisedconfusion, the likely mount of Nina Carberry.

The Gold Cup form is also represented by fourth-placed Burton Port, the seventh Midnight Chase and Weird Al, who was pulled up.

Midnight Chase will be readied for a tilt at the National following his slightly disappointing performance in the Gold Cup.

The 10-year-old is a five-time course winner at Prestbury Park and appeared to have sound place claims for Neil Mulholland after finishing fifth in the blue riband 12 months ago.

But having made mistakes from the front, he weakened into seventh.

His trainer believes the ground played a big part in his poor jumping display. “He’s come out of the race fine. I think the ground was just too fast for him in places and he didn’t jump,” said Muholland.

“He just never got into that rhythm that he can do, which was a bit frustrating, but these things happen and we move on.

“We’ll look at the National for him now. We’ll leave him in and the owners are happy to go that way, which is great.

“He schooled over National fences last year and jumped them well, so hopefully there’ll be no worries on that score.”

Other leading contenders include the David Pipe-trained Junior and the Alan King-trained West End Rocker, who has not run since winning the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase over the National fences in December.

Philip Hobbs has withdrawn Fair Along but intends to run Planet Of Sound.

“Fair Along will probably run in the Scottish National instead. Planet Of Sound will definitely run providing everything goes all right,” the Minehead trainer told At The Races.

Others among the 18 withdrawals were Massini’s Maguire, Hold On Julio, Niche Market, Stewarts House and Backstage.

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