Monday 19 March 2018

In Synch' for tilt at National

Gold Cup victor on track for historic double as he stays in running for Aintree showpiece

Synchronised remains a possible for the John Smith's Grand National following his game victory in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The nine-year-old, trained by Jonjo O'Neill, is among 59 horses left in the April 14 Aintree spectacular at the latest scratchings stage.

He is 8-1 favourite with Betfred to become the first horse since Golden Miller in 1934 to win the two biggest chasing prizes in the same season.

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

"He was tired for a day or two after Cheltenham, which you would expect as it was a marvellous performance.

"But Jonjo is pleased with him now and we'll wait a week or two before we decide what to do."

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. He's in the National and the Irish National and he'll probably run in one of those. Nothing is set in stone yet," Berry added.

Synchronised 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.

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.

Malton trainer Malcolm Jefferson saddled a double at Cheltenham last week and he was set to parade his National hope According To Pete at Aintree today.

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Philip Hobbs has withdrawn Fair Along but intends to run Planet Of Sound.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

Among the 18 withdrawals were Massini's Maguire, Hold On Julio, Niche Market, Stewarts House and Backstage.

Donald McCain is looking forward to seeing stable star Peddlers Cross return to hurdling next season following his no-show at Cheltenham last week.

Peddlers Cross had been suffering from a muscle problem but was nursed back to fitness in time for the Festival, where he was sent off favourite for the Jewson Novices' Chase but failed to be competitive.

"He's come out of the race fine and that's him done for the season now," said McCain.

"He can jump, but it is all just a bit too much of an effort for him.

"We've given it a try and it hasn't worked out, so he'll go back hurdling next season now."

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