03/16/2012 11:36AM

Synchronised surprises at 8-1 in Cheltenham Gold Cup


CHELTENHAM, England – Champion steeplechase jockeys, both past and present, combined to win Friday’s Cheltenham Gold Cup with the outsider Synchronised at Cheltenham Racecourse on Friday.

Synchronised was an 8-1 chance in the field of 14. Trained by former champion jockey Jonjo O’Neill and ridden by reigning champion jockey A.P. McCoy, Synchronised closed from fifth with two fences remaining in the race over 3 1/4 miles to win by 2 1/4 lengths over the 50-1 outsider The Giant Bolster.

Long Run, the 7-4 favorite, was well-placed throughout, challenged for the lead at the last of 22 fences, but could not sustain the threat, finishing three lengths behind the winner.

Kauto Star, a 12-year-old gelding who won the race in 2007 and 2009, was pulled up before the completion of the first of two circuits. He was ridden back to the stands by jockey Ruby Walsh. Owner Clive Smith said after the race that Kauto Star was "likely" to be retired.

Even though Long Run was favored and Kauto Star was a sentimental choice, there was support for Synchronised, a 9-year-old gelding owned by legendary Irish bettor J.P. McManus, British steeplechasing’s leading owner. On Friday morning, Synchronised was 10-1 to 16-1 with various bookmakers, a price that had shortened by mid-afternoon posttime.

The Gold Cup was worth approximately $785,000, and worth $342,000 for McManus.

O’Neill, 59, was the champion jockey twice, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He won the Gold Cup twice – on Alverton in 1979 and on the mare Dawn Run in 1986 – and won for the first time as a trainer on Friday.

McCoy, 37, the leading steeplechase rider in England annually since 1995-96, a span of 16 years. He is on course for another title this year. Synchronised was his 200th winner of the year, leaving him more than 70 clear of closest pursuer, Richard Johnson.

Synchronised was his second Gold Cup win, 15 years after Mr Mulligan.