Synchronised was a racehorse that defined guts and courage, yet he was far from an exceptional jumper, always having to use his guile and determination to find the winning post first before his rivals. An impressive career span a total of just 20 races, featuring no less than NINE victories. Career defining wins came impressively in the 2010 Welsh Grand National, the 2011 Lexus Chase and the 2012 Gold Cup.
Quite recently, I had spoken about my betting rivalry with this great horse and conceded that he had the upper hand, having defeated my selections on three previous occasions. Only a naive person would dare bet in a race against him and for the large part of his racing career I proved to be one of them, at an extensive cost to myself.
My mate had questioned why I was so keen and I repeatedly kept regurgitating the one key trait I felt other people had missed "This horse is not the stable number two, it is simply a case of McCoy being unable to do the low weight! Other people have not noticed this! VALUE!"
In all honesty, I was at the racecourse to enjoy the day, and I seriously did not know for sure whether this horse was the stable number one for the race in question or not. It just seemed a pricing misjudgement to me to have a horse who had won 2 of his 4 career starts at an early price of 16-1 in the market. There were bags of potential and scope and the jockey on board did not matter to me at that price!
Over hurdles Synchronised proved fairly useful but it was not until he was tested quite cautiously over fences that he began to shine to any great degree. The horse quickly developed into a useful stayer with two quick novice victories at both Market Rasen and Chepstow. Victory in the latter race defined him unfairly as a mudlark and it was deemed he was best suited to testing conditions from that point on.
Victory in the delayed 2010 Welsh Grand National (deferred to the start of 2011) confirmed this assumption when he amazingly proved classy enough to concede 18lb to the consistent stayer Giles Cross and still win readily. Not since the great Master Oats in 1994, had a horse won this event carrying 11st 6lb, this was a colossal hint of the class he had, as that horse had then gone on to win a Gold Cup the following year.
It was as though Synchronised poured scorn on those very remarks as his improvement thereafter was enormous. He was scheduled to defend his crown in the 2011 Welsh National as favourite, before Jonjo O'Neill shocked punters by removing him from the race and choosing to take on Irish Grade One horses in the Lexus Chase, the very next day.
Many felt he would be outclassed and like myself, had not realised what merits his previous form fully entailed. Historically his best performances had been in soft or heavy ground and Leopardstown was riding quickly, surely he would not have the speed to match his younger rivals? How wrong could we be.
Nevertheless, my own previous experience with Synchronised had now taught me a huge lesson, and that was never to doubt him. Whilst he may not have been pleasing on the eye with his jumping or his looks, he was an unconfirmed star and I felt he had a chance against the greatest horses in slight decline.
As Gold Cup day arrived all the talk was still about Long Run and the recent return to form of the illustrious Kauto Star. This was a head to head battle in many punters' eyes and Synchronised once again felt that he must have had something to prove.
However, despite racing some seven or eight lengths adrift as the race began to hot up on the final circuit, anyone who had followed the career of Synchronised knew that no horse would finish the race better than he. Despite clouting fence after fence and looking deceptively disingenuous at his obstacles, he began to close on the leaders, as the race reached it's climax.
Class and honesty are what prevailed as Synchronised met the final fence some four lengths adrift of his rivals, before storming courageously up the hill past Long Run and the gallant runner up The Giant Bolster. This was a once in a lifetime performance on ground for many years he was believed to have little prayer of running on. My memory of this win will never leave me and in victory Synchronised could now be mentioned alongside the recent great names of Long Run, Denman and the ever impressive Kauto Star.
The lure of a huge windfall and a place in history proved too much to those connected with the horse and it is a tragic injustice that I find myself writing this, saddened at what I have seen happen in the Grand National. Synchronised was a horse who could have been a legend, but he will go down as a tremendous horse who was able to test his ability and win at the very highest level, proving his doubters wrong.
The Grand National itself, regardless of these tragedies, will forever be a first class event attracting millions of viewers all over the world and despite his untimely death, Synchronised himself will forever be a star.
My thoughts also go out to connections and lovers of According To Pete, who also suffered an unfortunate demise in the Grand National, after some breathtaking early season performances. No animal deserves to lose their life in sport and it is with tremendous heartache I accept this being a big, passionate supporter of horse racing. There are many highs and lows throughout the year in this sphere and despite the negative publicity horse racing will receive in the coming months, we are only too well aware of the risks involved.
This will always be one of the great sports where legends are created, who in turn, live long after their death.
Synchronised and According To Pete, may you Rest In Peace.