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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
Sport
football
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us