10th April, 2012 - Posted by Elliot Slater - Comments Off
After confirming that his stable companion and current ante-post favourite, Synchronised (8/1), will almost certainly run in the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, Frank Berry, racing manager to JP McManus, also reported that recent Cheltenham Festival winner, Sunnyhillboy, has been working well ahead of his attempt to land ‘the world’s greatest steeplechase’, writes Elliot Slater.
Most of the media attention around trainer Jonjo O’Neill’s yard has understandably been focused on the likely attempt by last month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Synchronised, to follow up under top weight in the showcase Aintree contest. However, Sunnyhillboy should not be forgotten, having had the perfect preparation for the big race in winning the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase in game fashion, beating another Grand National contender, Becauseicouldntsee, by four-an-a-half-lengths. That victory hadn’t been taken into account by the BHA handicapper when the weights for the Liverpool marathon were published, leaving O’Neill’s charge on an attractive mark of just 142 and set to carry a comfortable 10st 5lbs.
Ideally suited by a decent surface and already proven an in excess of three-and-a-half miles, having finished an excellent third behind Organisedconfusion (also set to run on Saturday) in last April’s Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse, the gelded son of Old Vic appears to have plenty going for him. He is generally a sound jumper who is capable of settling well and should see out the trip.
Although no final jockey booking has been confirmed, with champion jockey, Tony McCoy, almost certain to partner Synchronised, the ride on Sunnyhillboy will be much sought after, with Richie McLernon amongst the favourites to be given the nod. Available at odds of between 14/1 and 20/1 in Grand National betting, the apparent McManus/O’Neill second string is certainly no forlorn hope to make the frame.