Synchronised: What Makes a People’s Horse?

Good Morning!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. Today I bring to you another post in my What Makes a People’s Horse series and I am focusing on Synchronised. Thank you to @Robster2337 on Twitter for the suggestion. Let’s just jump straight into it!


Synchronised was foaled on 7th March 2003 by Sadler’s Wells out of Mayasta. He was bred in Ireland at the Martinstown Stud in County Limerick by Noreen McManus, the wife of his owner J. P. McManus. Synchronised went into training with Jonjo O’Neill.

Synchronised started his career on 14th February 2008 at Chepstow when he took part in a Maiden Hurdle over 2 miles 11 yards. He started the race at 33/1 under Richie McLernon, who at the time was claiming 7 pounds. He surprised everyone, when he actually placed and finishedsecond behind Osolomio (20/1). After a decent enough start to his career, Synchronised then headed to Towcester for another Maiden Hurdle on the 23rd March 2008, again under Richie McLernon (7), this time with a lot shorter odds of 9/2. This time he went one better and beat the 5/4 favourite Debauchery by 3/4 of a length.

Synchronised then took a 228 day summer break, before returning to Towcester on 6th November 2008 for a Handicap Hurdle. He started the race at 4/1 under Richie McLernon (7), however was very disappointing when finishing 10th out of 12, 34 and 1/4 lengths behind the 15/2 winner Character Building. He then took an 84 day break before returning in 2009, on the 29th of January at Wincanton for a Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle. Again under Richie McLernon (6), he started the race at 5/1 and although blundering the last fence, he ended up winning by 3 1/2 lengths to Cashel Blue (6/1) in second.

A year to the date of his first ever run, on the 14th February 2009, Synchronised then headed to Haydock for a Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Qualifier over 3 miles 1 furlong. He started the race as an 11/1 outsider, this time under Richie McGrath. He ended up beating Tazbar (8/1) by just a neck. Synchronised then headed to the Cheltenham Festival and on the 12th of March he was declared for the Listed Race, Pertemps Final. He started the race at 9/1 under Richie McLernon (5) and was one of many of the J. P. McManus horses to run. He was hampered on the bend after 2 out and was midfield when he fell at the last hurdle.

After his first fall of his career, Synchronised took a 251 day summer break before returning on the 18th of November 2009, this time at Market Race for his first attempt over the bigger obstacles in a Beginners Chase. This time, Champion Jockey AP McCoy to the ride, with Synchronised starting as the 7/4 favourite, his shortest odds to date. He impressively won by 2 lengths to Richard Johnson on 9/4 shot Bluegun. Synchronised had clearly not let the first fall of his career effect him and seemed to enjoy the bigger obstacles.

Just two weeks later on the 5th December 2009, Synchronised headed to Chepstow for a Novices’ Chase. Here he started as the 7/2 joint favourite under Richie McLernon (5), impressively winning by 4 1/2 lengths to Giles Cross (8/1). Synchronised then took a 51 day break.

Heading into 2010, on the 25th of January, Synchronised headed to Fontwell for a Novices’ Chase over 2 miles 5 furlong. Here he started at 9/4 under AP McCoy, however this time the partnership could only manage a third place behind winner Over Sixty (7/1) and Penn De Benn (22/1). After a 54 day break, Synchronised then headed to Uttoxeter on March 20th 2010 for the Midlands Grand National over 4 miles, 1 furlong and 92 yards over 24 fences, a massive step up from the races he had previously had. He started the race at 15/2 under AP McCoy, finishing the race very tired, Synchronised ended up winning by 3/4 of a length to Daryl Jacob on L’Aventure (12/1).

After a tough race, Synchronised had a 244 day break, before starting the new season on the 19th of November at Exeter where he took part in a Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Qualifier. Starting at 9/1 under Richie McLernon (3), however he could only manager a 5th out of 6 finishers. He then headed to Cheltenham on the 10th of December for a Handicap Hurdle where under AP McCoy at 14/1 only finished 6th out of 11 finishers.

Swiftly moving into 2011, on the 8th of January, Synchronised headed to Chepstow for the Welsh Grand National over 3 miles, 4 furlong and 98 yards over 22 fences as a 5/1 shot under AP McCoy. Here, he won by 2 3/4 lengths to Harry Skelton on Giles Cross (12/1). Synchronised then took a 70 day break before heading to Uttoxeter on the 19th of March for his second shot at the Midlands Grand National over 4 miles, 1 furlong and 92 yards over 22 fences, with 2 omitted. He started as the 9/2 favourite under AP McCoy, however unfortunately he could only manage a third place this time round behind winner Minella Four Star (25/1) and second place Ballyfitz (16/1).

Synchronised then headed across the Irish Sea to Fairyhouse on the 25th of April for the Irish Grand National. He was rode by Alan Crowe as a 25/1 shot, unfortunately being pulled up before 6 out where the jockey said he was never travelling.

Synchronised then took a 181 day break before heading to Aintree on the 23rd of October 2011 for a Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Qualifier, here he was a 50/1 shot under Mr A J Berry (3), where he finished 7th out of 13 finishers. On the 19th of November, he then headed to Haydock for a Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle under AP McCoy as a 25/1 shot. Here he finished 3rd behind winner Dynaste (7/1) and Benny Be Good (20/1) in second.

HIs last race in 2011 came on the 28th of December when he crossed the Irish Sea once again, this time for the Grade 1 Lexus Chase at Leopardstown. Here he started at 8/1 under AP McCoy, winning impressively by 8 1/2 lengths to Rubi Light (9/4) in second and 13/8 favourite Quito De La Roque in third.

After a 79 day break, Synchronised then headed straight to the Cheltenham Festival and on the 16th of March 2012 he was declared for the Grade 1 Cheltenham Gold Cup. He started at 8/1 under AP McCoy. He made a couple of mistakes throughout the race, but these did not stop him from winning by 2 1/4 lengths to Tom Scudamore on 50/1 shot The Giant Bolster.

The next race for Synchronised, and sadly, unknown to everyone, would be his last ever, would be the Grand National at Aintree on the 14th of April 2012. He started at 10/1 under AP McCoy, however fell at the 6th fence, Becher’s Brook. AP McCoy suffered a soft tissue injury, however Synchronised did not look injured and continued to run rider-less until attempting to jump the 11th fence where he incurred a fractured tibia and fibula in his right hind leg, meaning racecourse vets had no choice but to euthanise him.

Synchronised was sadly put to sleep at just 9 years old.

Three days later, J. P. McManus issued a statement where he said he felt ‘deep sadness and sense of devastation’ at the death of Synchronised and explained that ‘losing any horse is very sad but one as brave as Synchronised is a very big loss for all involved’. He also revealed that the horse had been buried at Jackdaws Castle. (Source: https://archive.vn/20120910053035/http://www.racingpost.com/news/horse-racing/j-p-mc-manus-synchronised-aintree-cheltenham-mcmanus-we-feel-deep-sadness-and-devastation/1017222/top/)

A few weeks later, AP McCoy said that:

Synchronised is a horse that I won’t ever forget. It is one of those terrible things that you wish will never happen.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/horse-racing/17917755

In 2015, when AP McCoy retired, he described Synchronised as his favourite horse to have rode in his career, saying:

The mother of Synchronised, Mayasta, was my first winner for JP (McManus) in 1996 and Synchronised gave me the greatest day in racing. JP spent his whole life trying to buy a Gold Cup horse, and his wife bred one for him. He was a bit like I am as a human being. He probably wasn’t the greatest horse I’d ridden but he had the greatest will to win. As a jump jockey I’ve seen the human side of horse racing be really tough, but in equine terms what happened to Synchronised was the worst day I’ve had in racing. When he fell I can distinctly remember him galloping off. I remember being in pain but thinking at least the horse is all right. Afterwards when he was loose he managed to get injured. I was very sore, but I cried for days afterwards. That affected me more than any other horse. It’s personal and that’s why he’s number one.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/horse-racing/31737340


Regularly in these posts I would now go through the figures of a horses career, but on this occassion, for me, AP McCoy summed it up perfectly. Synchronised was a horse that was all heart, he had the will to win and he truly wore his heart on his sleeve. I will include Synchronised’s race record below so you can look at it and break it down for yourselves, but I, personally, think the words of AP McCoy was enough to end this post on the fact that he was loved, not for his facts and figures, but for his heart.

Synchronised Race Record:
21/011F/1131/5613/P7311F/

I want to thank you all for reading this post, I hope you enjoyed it as always and I will see you all in my next post!

Visiting Jackdaws Castle – Home of Jonjo O’Neill Racing

Jackdaws Castle

Hi Guys!

Welcome back to my page, as you can see from the title today’s post is all about our incredible trip to Jackdaws Castle.

Today my family and I were lucky enough to be invited down to Jackdaws Castle, the home of Jonjo O’Neill Racing and I honestly was just in awe the whole time. 

If you know me, you know how obsessed with horse racing I am, I have loved the sport from a very young age so being able to visit one of the, arguably, most state of the art facilities within racing was just an incredible experience.

Firstly I would like to thank the whole team at Jackdaws for making us feel so welcome, feeding us, giving us lots of tea and champagne. It was incredible from the moment we turned up at the gate and got buzzed in. Everybody we met was lovely and welcoming and literally everybody spoke to us whether they were busy or not.

When we went into Jackdaws we had a good look around their stables, 120 of them to be precise. We got to meet some of their incredible stable stars and some of their staff who were getting some of the horses ready to get to work.

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We were also taken into their schooling area, their walkers and their pool and spa area, which was all just something I had never seen before. These animals are literally treated like royalty, everything they could ever wish for is right there next to their stables. I couldn’t fault any member of staff I came across, they all had their horses as their top priority. Once a horse was out of the pool you could see the staff rushing around to make sure the horse was washed with warm water, dried off and settled with a blanket on before they took them back to their stables, they honestly couldn’t do enough for the horse and it was incredible to watch them at work. 

A fact I found rather interesting whilst in this area, is a horse is weighed before leaving for a race and then again after and if he/she has only lost 1kg then they know it didn’t try in the race as they should at least lose a couple KG.

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We also had the honour of watching the 2nd out of 4 lots go out onto the gallops, seeing Jonjo at work with his team was truly spectacular, he knows so much about his horses and his style of training is something I have never seen before. It is very bespoke and each horse is trained in a way to suit them. For instance some horses who don’t settle well in a group were out on their own on a separate gallop to the group. It was something very different to what I had seen in other yards. Some of the guys also had walkie talkies so Jonjo could always communicate with them if he wanted certain things to happen.

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We had a lovely tour from Edward Gillespie, who now works closely with Jonjo, who used to be the Managing Director of Cheltenham Racecourse, so as you can imagine he had some very very interesting stories to tell us about his 30+ years managing one of, if not the biggest racecourse in the UK. It was incredible to get such an insight from somebody who has seen almost everything that can happen in horse racing and had the job of organising, in my opinion, the biggest racing festival in the world. It was also incredible to hear how he witnessed the sport and that course in particular grow. He said there were only 14 people in the office when he started, but when he retired in 2012 there were over 40. Which to me still is quite a small number. So after speaking with him, I have the upmost respect for the workers who do an incredible job of running the racecourses around the world. To us we just see the race days and how incredible it is, but behind the scenes it takes a lot of hard work to organise everything and everyone in the right place at the right time.

We also had an incredible talk with Jacqui O’Neill, Jonjo’s wife who is honestly an incredible woman. She was busy continuously, rushing around making sure everything was okay and we had drinks and food and had seen everything. She is also an extremely knowledgeable woman when it comes to horses, racing and training.

We of course, had the opportunity to talk to Jonjo who filled us in on his plans for a couple of the stable stars. He was lovely and had all the time in the world to talk to us, no question was too far, nothing was too much for him. He is an incredible trainer and a lovely bloke who has deserved all of the success he has had and I am sure will continue to have. Below are some of the successes Jonjo has had as a trainer, which is just incredible.

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  Also a massive thank you to Joe O’Neill, Jonjo’s nephew, who was lovely and welcoming and always on hand for any questions or help.

Overall, we had a fantastic day, from start to finish I cannot fault any of it. What I can say is if you get the opportunity to visit a stable facility like Jackdaws Castle then 100% take it, it is just an incredible experience. We love horse racing, but a race day is only a very small part of the life of a race horse and being able to go and see a day in the life of these horses, trainers, jockeys and stable staff is something I recommend any horse racing fan sees.

What I also want to touch on is the people who say that horse racing is ‘animal cruelty’ as I hear it day in, day out as a racing fan. It 100% is definitely not. These horses are treated like royalty, they are looked after so well it is honestly ridiculous. They love their job, as soon as their stable girl/lad goes to them to get them ready to go out they are up and ready to go and some that we seen today love it so much they don’t like going back towards their stable as they know their work is done. These horses are 3/4/5 times the size of the people riding them, if they didn’t want to run, jump, swim or do anything like that then they definitely wouldn’t let a 10 stone woman/man force them to.

Thank you for reading today’s post. I have a few more VIP stable tours coming up very soon so I will be posting more about the behind the scenes of horse racing very very soon!

I will see you all in my next post. Don’t forget to subscribe so you get an email when I post!