It was brilliant to see Annie Mc win by 18 lengths at Chepstow this afternoon. Congratulations to all of the Coral Champions Club members who were there today, and well done to Jonjo Jr. for another great ride and for Chris for leading it up!
YOU CAN WATCH THE FINISH OF THE RACE BELOW
Coral Champions Club Ambassador joined us last week to spend a morning with Annie Mc.
Watch him riding her on the gallops of the brilliant video from Coral below.
Jonjo O’Neill is, of course, very proud that his son managed to win a big race on Saturday, aboard Big Time Dancer in Kempton’s Lanzarote. But he is also a veteran of the weighing room of the 1970s, which was full of tough men, so he is unsurprisingly hard to impress and he doesn’t gush.
When I asked him on Sunday for his first reaction to the race, which he watched from his Jackdaws Castle base, he said: “I thought I could have ridden him meself.” It’s great fun, talking to Jonjo on the phone, when you can practically hear him smiling.
“Obviously, Jennie Candlish has done a great job with the horse and he jumped well and travelled well all the way through the race. And he had him in the right place at the right time. You’ve got to be cool and sensible and he did all that was asked of him. But he had the partner to help him.
“It’s lovely to see him ride winners and do it right instead of making a mess of it. It all went right.”
Jonjo is genuinely pleased for his son but he is also clear that he let him make his own decisions and never propelled him towards the weighing room, nor sugar-coated expectations of what Jonjo Jr might find there. “All I said to my two boys was, do whatever you enjoy doing most and you’ll be successful at it because you’ll always put in that 10% extra.
“But I’ve always told them it’s a very, very frustrating game. You can do everything right in this game and it can still bite you.
“It’s the greatest game in the world, as far as I’m concerned. But it’s how it all works out for you. You see some real good lads and they struggle to get rides. They can ride properly but they just don’t get on the right horses.
“I think he’s got quality, I’ll be honest with you. His weight is the only thing, it’s tough for him to do the bottom weights. But he’s well capable of making a good living at it, with luck.”
You can read the full article HERE.
We were delighted to welcome the 10 members of the first Jackdaws Racing Syndicate on Saturday along with family & friends who came to view their exciting 4yo Jeremy filly who will make her debut within the next few weeks.
Two members Nathan Ware & Jane Apted won the chance to name their filly & choose their own racing colours.
More syndicates are on there way & this is a fun & affordable opportunity to join us here at Jackdaws Castle & be an owner with Jonjo O'Neill. Email email@example.com to register your interest
Minella Rocco is among the 43 enries for the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The JP McManus 9yo is yet to run this season, his most recent outing being on 4th February in the Irish Gold Cup.
hough lightly raced, Jonjo has plenty of faith in the 2017 Gold Cup runner-up when he finished ahead of Native River for the second time round Cheltenham, a year after his defeat of the Gold Cup title holder in the National Hunt Chase.
Palmers Hill winning at Cheltenham in November was a personal highlight of the season so far. Imagine – Jonjo’s son winning in JP’s colours at the home of jump racing? Oh yeah! It was another heart-warming story that makes the jumping game so very special.
Not that this looked likely at the start of the year.
Jonjo Jr. explained: “I got a few bad falls in the early spring but I broke my L5 vertebrae in March as I was trotting in the indoor school – it was very strange. I had eight months off and returned in October. It was a long eight months!
“Rehab was fantastic. It was all rehab-based as there was no surgery involved. I had to get the nutrition right and feed me the supplements, the vitamins and the calcium I was lacking.”
Although some might have been worried about his riding future, young Jonjo himself wasn’t in the least.
“I was always confident. It was just trying to get a grip on how to deal with it. It wasn’t an impact fall – more to do with my body. I knew I had to be patient."
Jonjo Jr. was trying the impossible to do 9-7 last year and his body weight was fluctuating wildly. “So I upped my weight – 10-7 is comfortable and I can do lighter with a bit of notice, although 10-3 would be as light as I would go."
“But now I feel strong and am not having sweat or waste as hard. It would not have been sustainable before and this has made a big difference to my mindset.”
Riding racehorses is what young Jonjo always wanted to do. “I had never thought about anything else. Mum and Dad were pushing me away from it because they know how hard it is, but it just made me feel more determined.”
The first winner came on Temple Lord at Worcester back in July, 2015. But now that things have settled down bit, he looks ready to crack on and has impressed many with his progress.
Palmers Hill didn’t do him any harm. “To have a winner at the November meeting, especially in JP’s colours was unbelievable and it as great they were all there.
“I want to go as far as I can in the conditionals race but I am a bit behind because I only started at the end of October.“
He only has super agent Dave Roberts to assist him. And of course, he is an O’Neill, so that will always help.
It was brilliant to see Tedham win at Wincanton today. Huge congratulations to Martin and well done Nick and the team!
You can catch the end of the race below.
We were delighted to see His Dream win at Warwick this afternoon for Richard and Donna Evans who sponsored the whole card there today!
You can watch the end of the race and see the post race interview with Richard below.
Huge congratulations to Richard Johnson on receiving an OBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours.
An incredible ambassador and role model for the sport who richly deserves this honour and recognition.
As we come to the end of 2018 and into the New Year, it is clear that this is a time of rebuilding at Jackdaws Castle.
As you drive through the gates at the top of the hill (at least when Jonjo remembers to open them) you are immediately aware that the infrastructure at this outstanding yard has never been better.
The Polytrack gallops have recently been given a refresh and the new rubber schooling hurdles have been a revelation.
Jonjo is a huge fan. “They definitely help with cuts and scratches and I think they are a brilliant idea, to be honest. I don’t know why all the tracks don’t have them. They would save a lot of money and save a lot of veterinary fees! “The horses also seem to jump them better which makes for better progress to go chasing.”
Jonjo remains quietly determined – because that is his nature – to find the right horses to get the team right back up there.
I was just thinking that, unlike Manchester United, whose boss seemed to have totally lost the plot, your man at the helm is proving a steadying influence as this process continues.
Let’s face it, top athletes such as Synchronized, More Of That and Taquin De Seuil are extremely hard to replace and they don’t just land in your lap. You have to go out and find them. They are out there somewhere and Jonjo has been relentless in attending all of the top sales this year and will continue to do so to bring new horses – and some new owners – into the fold. If you are considering getting involved in a partnership or syndicate, Jonjo is happy to have potential owners join him at the Sales Ring, just drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
He explained: “You try and keep buying. You buy one because you think they are nice. Hopefully so long as they are lucky, they can go forward. Unfortunately you can’t see what’s inside them!”
Speaking of luck. Palmers Hill, who gave the yard a highlight when providing Jonjo Jr. with his first win at Cheltenham in November, and who looked to have such a bright future for JP McManus, is on the easy list. “Unfortunately he went wrong after the race and is out for the season. We hope he will be back next year,” explained a rueful Jonjo.
“We have some nice young ones but they are just babies so won’t take a lot of racing just yet. We could do with another superstar but unfortunately they have all been retired but that’s the way it goes – it just takes one to build it up again.”
Minella Rocco, the Gold Cup runner-up in 2017, is a big lad but he is fragile and although he suffered a setback not too long ago, Jonjo reports that he is back on target again and hopefully will be running again at the end of January. His work is being stepped up as you read this.
It’s hard not to like Rocco who has shown he is capable of mixing it with the very best. He still has time on his side.
The year had got off to an awful start when Taquin De Seuil lost his life at Huntingdon, ironically over hurdles after so many brave and successful days out over fences. Jonjo would say “That’s racing” and indeed it is, but it was still a mighty blow, especially to owners Martin Broughton and Friends.
So, it is good to see Martin’s other horses doing so well recently. Django Django, Monbeg Gold, Quarenta and newest arrival, Arrivederci, have all won in recent weeks.
Jonjo said: “We think a bit of Arrivederci and he will have another two runs in the spring. Hopefully he will go some way to filling the gap left by Taquin.”
Cloth Cap, owned by Trevor Hemmings, has been paying his way this season with wins at Stratford and Catterick. He has had an infection but will be back in the New Year.
Keep an eye on the progress of Sky Pirate, owned by Lady and Alice Bamford, who was going to get involved in the finish of a highly competitive amateur riders handicap chase at Cheltenham in November only to fall two out.
“He has done nothing wrong” says Jonjo, “and was a bit unlucky last time. He is not a superstar yet but is quietly improving and could be one for the four-miler or the Kim Muir at the Festival. He is only young, rising six, but one day he could even make into a Grand National horse.”
At the other end of the scale, Eastlake, a yard favourite, may not be the force he once was but he loves being in training and will be trying out some hunter chasing. At least he has the option after almost being claimed by colic recently.
So I would say there is much to be optimistic about as another year ticks by. The facilities at Jackdaws are as good as new and as Jonjo says: “The place deserves good horses. Of course we’d like a lot of good ones around the place as it makes life a lot easier. Without them it makes life a little tougher. But you’ve got to keep your head down and keep going forward.”
The new look website has gone live over the Christmas break, not that the old one looked old-fashioned in the slightest, but that is what Jackdaws Castle is all about – always looking forward, always looking to get even better.
Happy New Year to one and all and hope to see you at the races.