Horses To Follow » Synchronised


Synchronised ran out a game and worthy winner of the Pertemps Qualifier at Haydock on Saturday. In the van the whole way, the Sadler’s Wells gelding jumped well, and travelled up like the winner from a long way out. Richard McGrath, who took the ride presumably because AP McCoy couldn’t do 10st 4lb (the champ rode Foreman in the race) was the only jockey standing up in his irons as they rounded the home turn. It took Synchronised a long time to get the better of front-running Tazbar, but that rival was well fancied and well backed, and is high class in his own right (connections are talking about going for the World Hurdle), so it would have been no disgrace even if Synchronised had been beaten by the Keith Reveley gelding.

Synchronised was put up 18lb for his previous win at Wincanton, which looked severe given that the runner-up had disappointed since, but he made light of that hike on Saturday. He is only six and most progressive, having run just four times over hurdles in his life before Saturday. This was his first attempt at three miles, and he proved here that he stays this distance well. He and Tazbar pulled three lengths clear of the useful Pennek, and he is a likely type for the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham. His trainer Jonjo O’Neill has won that race twice in the last six years, and owner JP McManus has won two of the last five renewals.

Ballyfitz won this qualifier before landing the final at Cheltenham, while Jonjo O’Neill sent his 2003 Pertemps Final winner Inching Closer to Haydock to land a two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle as a prelude to his Cheltenham Festival victory. It may not be insignificant that Inching Closer was, like Synchronised is, a lightly-raced, progressive six-year-old. According to Paul Jones’s Cheltenham Betting Guide, 24 of the last 46 handicap hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival were won by last-time-out winners so, even though Synchronised has been raised 7lb for this victory, it still leaves him on a mark of just 137, which should see him get into the Pertemps in the mid-10sts, which would be ideal.  Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, a pre-Festival victory is no burden for these handicap hurdlers to bear, especially one as progressive as Synchronised.  If he takes his chance in the Pertemps, he could run a big race.

© The Irish Field, 21st February, 2009