Synchronised exposes lack of Gold Cup depth

 

Leopardstown

One thing Kauto Star has not really had to contend with, in any of the last five Gold Cups, is a genuine challenger from Ireland – with the possible exception of Pandorama, who finished so sore at Cheltenham in March that he will not be seen at all this season. Sadly, to judge from what happened here yesterday, things will be little different this time round. True, there were signs that the present crop of novices are working towards a breakthrough, but an emphatic success for Synchronised in the Lexus Chase seemed to give extra edge to the icy gale that came blasting out of the Wicklow hills.

Those who had hoped that Quito De La Roque or Rubi Light might break into the Gold Cup picture will be dismayed to learn that not even Jonjo O'Neill, who stayed at home in the Cotswolds, had given much chance to Synchronised. Winner of the Welsh National last year, he had been scheduled to return to Chepstow the previous day until O'Neill decided that 11st 11lb would be too unfair a burden in so gruelling a race. At the same time, he expected the horse to struggle with conditions much faster than usual for this meeting. Yet there he was, pluckily holding his position as a steady pace finally picked up, and answering Tony McCoy's every call. Turning in, the pair scuttled through a narrow gap on the inside to take command from Rubi Light on the run to the last. Only now reaching top gear, Synchronised surged eight and a half lengths clear on the run-in, and suddenly finds himself as short as 10-1 for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

In fairness, there is a clear lack of depth behind Long Run and Kauto Star – and this was only an eighth start over fences for a horse now in his prime. With the ground apparently an issue no longer, O'Neill confirmed that Synchronised will be aimed at the Gold Cup, taking in either the Argento Chase at Cheltenham next month or returning here for the Hennessy Gold Cup.

The trainers of both Rubi Light and Quito De La Roque exonerated their charges, proposing softer ground for both, but already it seems necessary to look to the next generation for a Gold Cup horse. And we may well have seen one in the Topaz Fort Leney Novice Chase – or perhaps even two. For while Last Instalment extended his unbeaten record over fences with a decisive six-length defeat of First Lieutenant, the way the runner-up rallied after losing momentum two out suggests that he could yet have a say in the RSA Chase.

Both run in the colours of Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown Stud, whose retained jockey had once again stayed loyal to First Lieutenant – somewhat to the surprise of Philip Fenton, the winning trainer. The beneficiary was Brian O'Connell, who certainly got Last Instalment jumping well under a positive ride. The partnership may yet be renewed at Cheltenham, if Davy Russell perseveres with First Lieutenant – already a Festival winner. Mouse Morris, his trainer, sounded as though he would give him every encouragement. "I'm very pleased with the ground he made at the end," he said. "You won't see him until Cheltenham. And there's a hill there."

The expanding Gigginstown cavalry had earlier produced yet another youngster with a future in Make Your Mark, runaway winner of the maiden hurdle. Already winner of his sole starts in a point-to-point and bumper, he has amazed his trainer. "This fellow doesn't do anything flashy at home," Willie Mullins said. "But every time we've asked him a question, he's answered it."

Mullins endured a lengthy inquisition over the continued absence of Hurricane Fly, who disappeared from today's big hurdle race at the declaration stage. "Paul [Townend] rode him this morning and I just wasn't happy he was straight enough to do himself justice," he explained. Asked whether Hurricane Fly might end up defending the Champion Hurdle first time out, Mullins did not hesitate. "I could, if I had to," he said. "I would like to get a run into him before."

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Trop Fort (2.20 Doncaster) Well handicapped on debut form for this stable and, though disappointing since, folded only after an error two out last time. Blinkered today.

Next best

Cabbyl Doo (1.35 Kelso) Entitled to need the run last time after six-month absence.

One to watch

Reizovic (John Kiely) disappointed at Leopardstown on Tuesday but promises better another day.

Where the money's going

Sprinter Sacre is 5-2 from 11-4 with William Hill for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in March.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: General Manager

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of global logisti...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager - £70,000 OTE

£35000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Manager (Vice President...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Marketing Executive i...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable