'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."

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
A poster by Durham Constabulary
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Emily McDowell Card that reads:
artCancer survivor Emily McDowell kicks back at the clichés
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvBadalamenti on board for third series
Life and Style
Standing room only: the terraces at Villa Park in 1935
Ben Stokes celebrates with his team mates after bowling Brendon McCullum
sportEngland vs New Zealand report
Amal Clooney has joined the legal team defending 'The Hooden Men'
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine