Yesterday The Racing Horse was very fortunate to attended the Coral Welsh National Media Day at Jackdaws Castle stables to get Jonjo O’Neill’s views on his runners in the race but also on the progress of Don’t Push It and Albertas Run. The 500 acre estate, close to Cheltenham had facilities that are second to none and we would like to thank all the staff for giving us such a wonderful time!
Jonjo O’Neill told us that he hopes to run four horses in the gruelling marathon including Synchronised, Galaxy Rock, Arbour Supreme and Alfie Sherrin and we asked him to perm two from four, with a glint in his eye he said: "Because he likes the long straight it must be Synchronised to beat Galaxy Rock and we go to the race with a cracking chance!" He reminded us that the handicapper has Synchronised five pounds heavier now and because he is not a big horse that is not going to help matters!
Synchronised heads the betting at 6-1 with the sponsors for the Chepstow marathon which takes place on 27th December 2011 and is expected to be joined by stable companions Galaxy Rock, Alfie Sherrin and Arbor Supreme. "Galaxy Rock would be the best of my other runners," added O’Neill. "There are question marks regarding Alfie Sherrin, but newcomer to the stable Arbor Supreme is not without a chance."
We talked to Jonjo about the timing of the race and the bad weather that follows it and he told us that he has a Plan B, should the race be postponed again as Synchronised could take on Denman in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown at the end of the month.
The ground at Chepstow is usually heavy at this time of the year and AP McCoy has already said: "It is not that Synchronised likes the heavy ground but it slows the others down and our horse just keeps galloping relentlessly. His jumping is not that great but he is economical and he did it well enough last year and clearly loves the track."
Of the other horses Jonjo told us: "Galaxy Rock stays well and has won on heavy ground albeit against lesser opposition. He is a good spare ride as AP will be on the favourite and the horse is in great form." He continued with a warning: "Alfie Sherrin was very disappointing the other day. He didn’t seem to like the heavy ground, so he’d be a bit of a question mark at this stage but Arbor Supreme will definitely go. He likes the mud and is in good old form at the moment. He’s not without a chance."
Back on the gallops we were in awe of the fabulous steep all-weather track and watched Synchronised lead fellow Welsh National horses Arbor Supreme, Galaxy Rock and Alfie Sherrin where we chatted to Richard Holland, Chepstow's executive director. He was in buoyant mood as he prepared for his last Welsh National before moving on. He told us: "The race is holding its own against the competition. Some horses love heavy ground and the real test of stamina is what the Welsh National is all about." He continued: "There are some cracking horses being pointed at the event and that's testament to the race that it is. There are more great races on the card, too, and the BBC are committed to it this year, which is a sign of the regard they hold it in. Furthermore advance bookings are up, hospitality is up and it's growing year-on-year. It's a brilliant race and a brilliant meeting."
The boss of Chepstow racecourse has been appointed as the new chief executive of Cardiff Blues. Richard Holland will replace former Wales second-row Bob Norster, who announced in October he would be standing down as chief executive of the region after eight years in the role.
We will have some information on Albertas Run and Don't Push It tomorrow morning...
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