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.