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Synchro stays on for gold

Tony McCoy claimed his second Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup as Synchronised showed reservoirs of stamina in the premier race of the National Hunt calendar.

Trained by Jonjo O'Neill and owned by legendary gambler JP McManus, the 8-1 chance had too much raw grit for big outsider The Giant Bolster.

Synchronised's two-and-a-quarter-length victory, no matter how impressive, was nonetheless slightly dampened after two-times Gold Cup winner Kauto Star was pulled up at the ninth fence by Ruby Walsh.

Kauto Star's owner, Clive Smith, said it was "90pc certain" Paul Nicholls' legendary 12-year-old would be retired.


He said: "What a great career he's had and he's been a wonderful horse.

"I've been so proud to own him and also the support of everybody has been absolutely tremendous.

"I would say it's 90pc certain that he'll be retired. Someone will have to come up with a very good reason for me not to retire him."

Long Run, last year's winner, also failed to fully sparkle for the Nicky Henderson team and finished third.

Midnight Chase set out to make all of the running and initiated a strong pace, with Kauto Star and Long Run close behind.

There was drama at the second fence when What A Friend, part-owned by Alex Ferguson, fell. Soon after it became evident Walsh was not happy with Kauto Star and pulled him up.

Time For Rupert got the better of Midnight Chase before four out, but he was soon swamped. The Giant Bolster then looked like landing a major shock as he took the lead on the turn for home.

Long Run was in the front rank, but Sam Waley-Cohen was hard at work on him and he failed to show the same acceleration that won the race 12 months ago.

Burton Port also tried to close, but it was Synchronised who was delivered to perfection by McCoy as his stamina proved crucial.

McCoy, whose sole Gold Cup success had come in 1997 courtesy of Mr Mulligan, said: "He was off the bridle the whole way and when I missed the third-last I thought my chance had gone. He's an amazing horse and it was an amazing performance.


"I'm so pleased to win it for JP as he's been so good to me. Jonjo has done an incredible job. I've got a Grand National and a Gold Cup out of the man and I love him to bits."

O'Neill, who was securing his first Gold Cup as a trainer, added: "AP was brilliant on him, he knows him so well.

"Our big worry was keeping him in the race as, if he makes mistakes, he gets behind.

"A lot of work has gone into him at home so was a great team effort from the yard.

"He only came right in the last 10 days or so and we weren't really confident. He flowered in the last few days and it was spot-on timing.

"I knew the one thing he would do was stay -- the big problem was keeping him in the race. AP got him into a great rhythm."

David Bridgwater, trainer of The Giant Bolster, said: "He was brilliant, but I've always said this is an exceptionally good horse."

And Henderson said of Long Run: "You have to say Long Run was not quite good enough on the day -- he was always struggling to get to the pacemakers, but Sam (Waley-Cohen) rode a great race."