McCoy hoping Synch's in time again13/04/2012 - 10:13:14
Tony McCoy admits he is as much in the dark as everyone else regarding how Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Synchronised will take to Aintree’s giant fences in the John Smith’s Grand National.
The 16-times champion jockey is famed for his never-say-die riding style and that was seen in full glory as he coaxed Jonjo O’Neill’s Synchronised up the famous Cheltenham hill to win last month’s blue riband.
There were scenes of similar unbridled joy when McCoy finally ended his Grand National hoodoo when striking aboard the O’Neill-trained Don’t Push It in 2010, and he now aims to repeat the dose on a horse he has described as an “ugly duckling”.
Even his connections would admit that Synchronised does not have the same class and stature of previous Gold Cup champions like Kauto Star and Denman, and his jumping is often anything but fluent.
But what the Midlands and Welsh National winner does have in spades is courage, and McCoy is hoping that will stand him in good stead as he prepares to tackle the most famous four and a half miles in the sport.
“I’ve ridden horses round Aintree that I didn’t look forward to riding and they’ve jumped very well, and I’ve ridden horses round there that I thought would be brilliant and they’ve been anything but,” said McCoy.
“Some horses take to it and some horses don’t. The only way you find out is by running them.
“He’s a really tough horse and he tries, he has surprised us a lot in the past so he might have one more up his sleeve.”
Given how he is often scrubbed along early in his races before finishing with a flourish, it is no real surprise that Synchronised often takes a long time to recover from his battles.
After his slightly surprising win in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, connections had to miss the Hennessy Gold Cup back at the track in early February as he was not showing them the right signs at home.
However, McCoy insists he has taken his Cheltenham exertions in his stride.
“It took him a little while to get over winning the Lexus Chase in Ireland, but saying that, there is every possibility he’s a healthier horse now than he was then for whatever reason,” the jockey continued.
“Whether it was the travelling or whatever after Ireland, it just took him a long time to get over it.”
Another leading Aintree hope whose jumping has been questioned in some quarters is the David Pipe-trained Junior.
So often there is a fascinating narrative to back up the National winner and this horse is not short in that department as he bids to become the first horse ever to win at Royal Ascot, the Cheltenham Festival and land the world’s most famous steeplechase.
The nine-year-old has been campaigned with just this race in mind this season, with a run in a Newbury hurdle race and a close second in Doncaster’s Grimthorpe Chase under his belt, with the form of that race well advertised since by Ikorodu Road.
Big-race jockey Tom Scudamore believes the ultimate test of Aintree could be just what Junior wants.
“David has been very happy with him at home. I’ve seen him about the place and he’s looking fantastic and in really good order,” said Scudamore.
“He’s always struck me as an ideal National type. He’s very similar to the likes of Blowing Wind and Bindaree in that he’s a very intelligent horse to ride and very straightforward.
“He can cope with the big occasion having won at Royal Ascot and at the Cheltenham Festival – he’s just a big occasion horse and thrives on it.
“You need horses that are brave, you need the nimbleness and above all the intelligence. You need a horse that can think for themselves and sort themselves out, because there is plenty going on, not just with the fences but with loose horses and things all around.
“Junior is certainly a very intelligent horse and I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t take to Liverpool and thrive on it,” he told At The Races.
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