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National bid in Synch for O'Neill

Fri, 13 April 2012
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Jonjo O'Neill is confident his Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Synchronised is in the form of his life as he bids to follow up in the John Smith's Grand National.

With Golden Miller the last horse to complete the double in the same season back in 1934, the history books suggest Synchronised is up against it, but the nine-year-old is in a different mould to many who have tried as he has shown he loves a stern stamina test by winning the Welsh and Midland Nationals.

"He came right in time for the Gold Cup and he just seems really well. If he had been third, fourth or fifth in the Gold Cup, everyone would have been saying the National was the right race for him," said O'Neill.

"We'd have loved to have put him in a glass case and just hugged and kissed him forever, but he's a racehorse and this is the race that suits him."

O'Neill never won the world's most famous steeplechase during his illustrious riding career, but has already won it as a trainer as Don't Push It gave Tony McCoy that elusive first National triumph two years ago.

Top-weight Synchronised has a history of taking his races hard, but his trainer could not believe how well the gelding was the morning after his Gold Cup victory.

O'Neill added: "He just came out of the race so good. He came out of his box the next day better than ever, and he's the best horse in the race. He's sensible and as long as he doesn't start diving at his fences and taking too much out of himself, hopefully he'll get into a rhythm. The fellow on top (McCoy) might help a bit, too."

Should Synchronised not come up with the goods, it will not necessarily end O'Neill's National hopes, as he also saddles Kim Muir winner Sunnyhillboy and outsider Arbor Supreme.

The trainer went on: "Sunnyhillboy is in great form and he's like Synchronised in that you just hope he gets into a rhythm. He took longer to learn how to jump but we think he stays and he was staying on in the Irish National last year. He came out of Cheltenham well."

Asked which of his trio he would ride, O'Neill concluded: "I'd ride the Gold Cup winner. He has a lot of weight, but good horses can give weight away and if everything goes right he'll be very close. The other one (Sunnyhillboy) will hopefully run a blinder, too."

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