'They're made for each other – both find more'
Trainer pays tribute to champion jockey's gutsy ride on Synchronised
As the man who summoned that immortal surge from Dawn Run in 1986, and also won the race on Alverton in 1979, Jonjo O'Neill's testimony counted double as he yesterday saluted the performance of another great horseman in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup. The trainer of Synchronised acclaimed Tony McCoy as the perfect partner for a horse whose ribs could barely contain his heart.
"The two of them are the same, really," O'Neill said. "They keep finding more, and then more again. They're made for each other."
O'Neill was clear that training a Gold Cup winner exceeded the satisfactions of his first vocation. "If you cock up as a jockey, you let yourself down," he said. "If you cock up as a trainer, you let the whole team down. There's far more responsibility – and far more pleasure when you get it right. And getting this horse right has been a massive team effort."
Exactly a year ago, Synchronised was beaten in a staying handicap at Uttoxeter, and this transformation seemed a remote prospect even after his breakthrough success at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting.
"He wasn't well at all when he came back," O'Neill said. "He caught a chill and he's not a big, robust horse. He needs minding, and time between races. Everyone in the place put their shoulders to the wheel and it was really only in the last few days that he really came to himself. He was like a flower that finally bloomed."
O'Neill stressed that his lack of stature gave Synchronised an ungainly technique, and marvelled that McCoy had been able to build and sustain his momentum.
"He doesn't look like a Gold Cup horse," McCoy conceded. "You can't ride him like a big scopey chaser. I was just getting from one side to the other as quickly as I could and it wasn't always pretty. I was never going that well – but never in a position I couldn't win from."
McCoy admitted that he had initially doubted whether Synchronised's form was good enough. "But on the day you have to believe," he said. "You have to be a dreamer. I always think when you line up for a race you start with a blank canvas and any horse can win. And I said to the boss this morning that I thought it was going to happen today."
The champion jockey reiterated his view that neither O'Neill nor their mutual patron, JP McManus, are properly understood – and urged other investors to support the stable.
"Jonjo comes here every year and gets results," he said. "He never gets the credit he deserves. People think Jackdaws Castle is a closed shop, only for JP and Derrick Smith and the like – but that's not the case. He's an amazing man, and brilliant to ride for. And JP is an out-and-out racing fan who just loves his sport and horses so much.
"It's nothing to do with betting or anything like that. He's just as interested when I ride at Plumpton on a Monday as the Cheltenham Gold Cup. I'm just delighted for him – and so lucky to ride for such nice people."
Latest in Sport
Ben Stokes and the strangest injuries in sport
Daniel Sturridge reveals Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is 'very demanding'
Michael Schumacher: Sebastian Vettel pays tribute to F1 legend with special helmet for Australian Grand Prix
Manchester United v Liverpool: How will rivals handle European role reversal?
Nicholas Anelka sacked by West Bromwich Albion: Parting is such tweet sorrow for French striker
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Best films on Netflix: 32 movies that will put an end to your scrolling
- 3 Istanbul protesters take 'Ellen selfie' from the back of a police van
- 4 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Jet ‘hi-jacking’ began soon after take-off
- 5 Lady Gaga has struggled with eating disorders in the past, so it's indefensible that she's glamourising bulimia in her SXSW set
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: This well respected and exciting...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting company and market...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: Signal Processing Engineer / Acoustics...