SYNCHRONISED won a superb Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup but legendary chaser Kauto Star was pulled up in National Hunt’s showpiece race.
Given an exceptional ride by 16-time champion jockey Tony McCoy, the nine-year-old (8-1) beat The Giant Bolster (50-1) by two-and-a-quarter lengths with last year’s winner Long Run (7-4 fav) a further three-quarters of a length back in third.
Trained by Jonjo O’Neill, Synchronised looked unsettled at various stages of the three-and-a-quarter mile contest but McCoy, later praising his heart and commitment, galvanised him towards the run-in.
Long Run, ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen, was well placed to mount a strong defence of his title but was unable to stay with the front two and it was Synchronised who battled on the strongest to the line.
The race may prove the final chapter for Kauto Star, the 2007 and 2009 victor, who was pulled up before the tenth fence by rider Ruby Walsh – the crowd breaking out in spontaneous applause as the 12-year-old came back past the stands.
McCoy, who last won the Gold Cup on Mr Mulligan 15 years ago, said: “To win the Gold Cup is amazing. He’s a brilliant little horse and he has a great will to win.
“If you don’t have the belief or the will to win then you have nothing. He’s all heart. This is the pinnacle of our sport. I can’t believe it is 15 years since I last won it.”
O’Neill added: “It’s fantastic. He came home from the Lexus earlier in the season and he just wasn’t right and it took him a long time to recover.
“There was a big team effort at home.
“Everyone put the shoulder to the wheel, night and day, and put a lot of work into him.
“AP (McCoy) is a great judge of pace. He’s a great horseman and he was brilliant. I just hope he lasts a bit longer.”
Paul Nicholls brought Kauto Star to the Gold Cup following a schooling fall two weeks ago and the trainer reported: “He’s absolutely fine.
“Ruby wasn’t happy after he’d jumped a couple of fences and we said if he wasn’t happy to pull him up, and he’s done the right thing.”