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  Gold Cup hero Synchronised looks well handicapped National candidate  

On the face of it, it might appear a strange thing to suggest that the brave Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised is a well handicapped John Smith's Grand National contender, but despite top weight of 11st 10lbs he is technically 'well in' should he bid to land a famous double at Aintree on April 14, writes Elliot Slater.

The Jonjo O'Neill-trained gelding won the Gold Cup having gone into the contest with an official rating of 167, a mark that had been raised 12lbs following his surprise victory in the Grade 1 Lexus Chase in Ireland in December when he beat Rubi Light by over eight-lengths. At the time many observers suggested the win could have been a fluke, and it appears that BHA handicapper Phil Smith went some way to agreeing with that assessment in handing Synchronised top weight for the Grand National, but off a mark of just 161. Those following the Grand National betting will be wondering if he can cope.

Now, having won the Gold Cup and put the 182-rated Long Run (who admittedly ran below his best), in his place, were Smith to have the opportunity to retrospectively rate O'Neill's charge he would surely hand him a rating close to a stone higher. So even though he would have to face the prospect of jumping the 30 daunting Aintree fences and racing four-and-a-half-miles in the 'world's greatest steeplechase' only four weeks after winning the blue riband event of National Hunt racing, those who study the figures will surely argue that Synchronised could seriously be worth a bet.

Bookmakers slashed his Grand National 2012 odds from 25/1 to a top priced 12/1 (some go just 8/1), for the Aintree spectacular, and especially if he encounters some cut in the ground Synchronised could well be the one they all have to go some to beat if fully recovered from his Cheltenham exertions.

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