Synchronised delivers McCoy's National slam
R esolute stayer Synchronised helped Tony McCoy complete a grand slam of National victories in the Coral-sponsored Welsh version at Chepstow yesterday.
The £80,000 prize, carried over from Christmas, will not earn the champion jockey the same widespread recognition as his triumph aboard Don't Push It at Aintree last year.
But he joins Ruby Walsh as the only current rider to have lifted the great handicap chases of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Synchronised (5/1) had preceded Don't Push It's success by winning the Midlands National last March and it appeared inevitable he would be involved in the finish with McCoy always looking confident.
Trainer Jonjo O'Neill had given the gelding just two sighters over hurdles this term and although there had been market confidence during the week, he was usurped as favourite by Maktu (9/2).
Pat Murphy's star played a major part before finishing fifth but he was outshone by Victor Dartnall's Midlands National third Giles Cross, which ran a mighty race from the front under Harry Skelton and appeared to be travelling within himself late on.
However, the fact they had already ploughed through more than three miles of Chepstow mud was bound to have an effect and Synchronised moved dangerously alongside with a couple of fences left to jump.
As talented as Skelton is, McCoy with his eyes on the prize is not a man to be trifled with and he had forged two and three-quarter lengths clear by the line in the iconic green and gold silks of JP McManus.
McCoy said: "I've won the English, Irish and now Welsh Nationals for Jonjo and JP, so that's very special. But you always want to win all the good races.
"Anything before is history, you might as well be someone who hasn't won it. As a lot of people have been reminding me ever since Aintree, I'm not going to have many more chances to win these races."
The sponsors now make Synchronised the 14/1 favourite for the Grand National itself but with O'Neill not present, future plans were unclear.
McCoy warned: "He took a long time to learn how to jump normal fences and he doesn't jump out at me as a typical National horse. He might take to it, he might not."
Also at Chepstow, Marsh Warbler skipped away in the Grade One Coral Future Champions Juvenile Hurdle for red-hot trainer Brian Ellison.
Sent off an 8/1 shot, Marsh Warbler was up against two well-regarded juveniles in Sam Winner and Smad Place, with the former a particular disappointment when finishing fourth after appearing to hold every chance turning in.
At Sandown, Minella Class lived up to his name to dominate the 32Red Hurdle (formerly the Tolworth Hurdle) for Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty, justifying some heavy support that pushed his price in from 11/4 to 6/4 favourite.
The former Irish-trained gelding took charge of the Grade One race after the final flight to win by seven lengths from Megastar at the line.
At Punchestown, smart hurdler Flat Out made a most impressive start to his career over fences in the 59 Euro Punchestown Hospitality Beginners Chase.
The Willie Mullins-trained 11/10 favourite came home with 13 lengths in hand over Ad Idem, leading Stan James to cut him to 20/1 from 25s for the Arkle at Cheltenham. Mullins went on to complete a double as Samain (8/13) took the concluding Punchestown Pavillion INH Flat Race.
Tillahow proved too strong for favourite Fearless Falcon in the Visit punchestown.com Juvenile Hurdle. The 9/2 chance came to challenge the market leader after jumping the second-last and stayed on all the way to the line for Davy Russell for a neck success.
Winning trainer Mouse Morris said: "He was good today -- he left his last run at Limerick behind him. He jumped much better here, I have no time for those hurdles (Easyfix) that they in use in Limerick."
Sunday Indo Sport