March 23, 2012 Leave a comment
Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised heads both the market and the weights at the latest forfeit stage for the 2012 Grand National. A total of 59 runners have stood their ground, with last year’s winner Ballabriggs next in the weights on 11-09. Midnight Chase, who finished 31 lengths behind Synchronised in the Gold Cup is on 11-08 the same as Weird Al who pulled up in Cheltenham feature with a broken blood vessel whilst a pound further back is Gold Cup fourth BurtonPort who’ll have just three pounds to reverse the eight lengths he finished behind Synchronised in the Gold Cup.
The simple fact that there are so many Gold Cup runners in this year’s Grand National tells us that we are likely to witness one of the highest quality renewals for many years. Add to the mix last year’s winner, Ballabriggs, Prince De Beauchene, winner of the Bobbyjo Chase inIrelandlast time out, together with Irish Hennessy Gold Cup winner, Quel Esprit and Sky Bet Chase winnerCalgaryBay.
Should Synchronised pull off the almost impossible Gold Cup and Grand National double in the same season then he would be the first horse to do so since Golden Miller in 1934 and the first horse since L’Escargot in 1975 to win both races. Another first is that he would also be the first horse since Freebooter in 1950 to carry top weight to victory. It all adds up to a very difficult task indeed for the Jonjo O’Neil trained and JP McManus owned runner but he could be the once in a lifetime horse that defies the history books.
It is fair to say that he will not go down as one of the all time great Gold Cup winners but it should be remembered that he won the Grade 1 Lexus Chase inIrelandin his preparation race forCheltenhamback in December. He also won the rearranged Welsh National over 3m7f in January 2011 and the Midland National over 4m1f a year before that, wins that confirm his staying ability to handle the marathon Grand National trip and it’s just whether he can overcome the burden of top weight.
Meanwhile Bookmakers generally have confirmed that support continues to come for the Willie Mullins trained Prince De Beauchene. The nine year old was last seen winning the Grade 2 Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse last month will be racing off only 10-06 making him a very decent proposition and with Ruby Walsh likely to take the ride, his price is only going to go in one direction.
Support it appears has waned for Donald McCain’s Weird Al following his broken blood vessel sustained in the Gold Cup where he had to be pulled up. He was still confirmed for the race however as is stablemate and 2011 winner, Ballabriggs, who is currently third favourite with odds of around 12/1. Ballabriggs of course will be trying to emulate the feat of the legendary three time winner, Red Rum, trained by McCain’s father, Donald and who was the last horse to win the Grand National back-to-back.
Others reported to be being well supported with just three weeks to go before the race include Junior from the David Pipe stable, Burton Port who is now into 12/1 in places, Alan King’s West End Rocker a 16/1 shot the same price as Cappa Bleu, Cheltenham Festival winner, Sunnyhillboy and the highly regarded Seabass from the Ted Walsh stable in Ireland. All will come to Aintree on April 14th with high expectations.