Champion jockey Tony McCoy and trainer Jonjo O'Neill sprung a Cheltenham Gold Cup surprise on Friday when 8-1 chance Synchronised dug deep to hold off outsider The Giant Bolster (50-1) to win the blue riband steeplechase.

McCoy, winning his second Gold Cup after taking the spoils on Mr Mulligan in 1997, finished strongly to win by two-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of The Giant Bolster with 2011 winner and 7-4 favourite Long Run back in third.

The much-anticipated showdown between Long Run and twice winner Kauto Star never materialised. Kauto Star, who had been declared fit by trainer Paul Nicholls after a fall on the gallops last month, struggled from the start and was pulled up by jockey Ruby Walsh on the first circuit.

It was a first Gold Cup triumph as a trainer for O'Neill, who memorably rode Dawn Run to victory in the race in 1986.

"Magic, this is a big team effort...everybody had done so much work on this horse," O'Neill told Channel Four television.

Long Run's amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen said: "There are no hard luck stories."

Trainer Paul Nicholls said his charge Kauto Star, whose participation in the Gold Cup was in jeopardy following a schooling fall a fortnight ago, was unscathed.

"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," said Nicholls.

 

Source: Agencies