Even writing this this I am a little bit stunned at the fact that trainer Jonjo O’Neill has discussed the possibility of sending Sunnyhillboy to the Cheltenham Gold Cup as part of his preparations for the 2013 Grand National.
With only three weeks between the races many would be forgiven for thinking immediately of the ill-fated Synchronised who, after winning the Gold Cup in 2012 headed to Aintree where, in unfortunate circumstances he lost his life. Synchronised was owned by JP McManus and trained by O’Neill as is Sunnyhillboy and let’s hope the parallels end there.
Sunnyhillboy last ran out in January where he was pulled up and with the weather being so disastrous this season, it’s easy to see why trainers are having to shift their plans around to accomodate the races that actually do go ahead.
Undoubtedly you want your charge to run in a race that is not only best suited ground wise, but also with the calibre of other runners to ensure that they get the best preparation for the biggest race of the season but it does seem a little like tempting faith that O’Neill and McManus would opt for the same route as Synchronised given how that ended.
O’Neill said: “I’ve got him in the Pertemps, but there will be 28 runners there and I wouldn’t want anything to happen to him.
“I’m not sure where we’ll go, but the plan is really Aintree.
“He could well run at Cheltenham and there would be fewer runners in the Gold Cup so it might be an option.”
So although nothing has been set in stone and Sunnyhillboy needs a run out, let’s hope it’s in a race that gives him the best chance at Aintree and not one that exerts him so much that he wins neither!