'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."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
The spider makes its break for freedom
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
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

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Graphic Designer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

Recruitment Genius: Concierge and Porter

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a customer focused, pro...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Day In a Page

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
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot