Synchronised and AP McCoy won a thrilling Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival, beating last year’s hero Long Run into third.
Kauto Star, who won the race in 2007 and 2009, was pulled up by jockey Ruby Walsh.
It was a first Gold Cup victory for Irish owner JP McManus — and a first training success in the race for Jonjo O’Neill, who took it as a jockey on the great mare Dawn Run.
The race started with drama when What A Friend fell at the second fence. Kauto Star raced prominently for the first few fences, but faded quickly through the field before being pulled up after the ninth.
Synchronised, an 8-1 shot, raced in the middle of the pack, and a mistake at the third-last looked to have put paid to his chances. But, galvanised by the 16-times champion jockey, the nine-year-old jumped into contention at the final fence and outstayed his rivals, winning by two and a quarter lengths.
McCoy said: “Synchronised was off the bridle all the way and what I didn’t want to do was fire him into the fences and make it hard for him. He is an amazing horse and it is an amazing training performance. I am delighted for Noreen and JP McManus, who have put so much into racing and they have been so good to me.”
The Giant Bolster and Tom Scudamore ran a magnificent race at 50-1 to finish second ahead of Long Run and Sam Waley-Cohen.
Trainer David Bridgewater said: “That’s effin’ marvellous! I thought this horse was a Gold Cup horse from day one. I knew he was a machine. I get a bit pumped up about him and get fed up when all the so-called experts criticise him, but if you slag my horse off you might as well slag my children off.”
The winner, homebred by his owner out of a Bob Back mare, is also a first Cheltenham Gold Cup winner for legendary sire Sadler’s Wells, who died last year aged 30. Synchronised took the 2011 Welsh Grand National, but leapt into Gold Cup contention with a classy win in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown after Christmas.
McCoy, whose only other Gold Cup win was back in 1997 on Mr Mulligan, had got off the mark for the week with Alderwood’s County Hurdle victory two races previously.
Salsify, trained in Ireland by Rodger Sweeney and ridden by Colm Sweeney, took the Christie’s Foxhunter from Chapoturgeon.