Jonjo O’Neill Junior underlines his promise as an emerging jockey with the biggest success of his career on Big Time Dancer in Lanzarote Hurdle
- The 20-year-old’s namesake father was champion jump jockey twice
- O’Neill Snr’s subsequent successes have included the Cheltenham Gold Cup
- His son’s riding career is now picking up pace after an eight-month back injury
He has one of the hardest acts to follow in racing but Jonjo O’Neill Jr underlined his promise as an emerging young jockey with the biggest success of his embryonic career on Big Time Dancer in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton.
The 20-year-old’s namesake father was champion jump jockey twice and rode over 900 winners including the 1986 Cheltenham Gold Cup on Dawn Run.
O’Neill sr’s subsequent successes as a trainer have included the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Synchronised in 2012 and the Grand National with Don’t Push It in 2010.
Jonjo O’Neill Jnr underlined his promise as a jockey with the biggest success of his career
His son’s riding career is now picking up pace after he was forced to spend eight months on the sidelines with a back injury.
The length-and-a-half win on the Jennie Candlish-trained 16-1 shot Big Time Dancer, who was always travelling well, was the 11th of the season for O’Neill jnr and the 25th of his career.
The jockey, who rode his first winner at Cheltenham in November, said: ‘After being off for so long, you dream of these days. You need these big winners to put you in the papers and on TV.
‘I want to do well in the conditional jockeys title race but I am a good way behind because I started late.
‘My father is very supportive and a big help, but I am my own man. Even though I’ve the same name I’m very much different.’
Meanwhile, the action at Warwick had some significant pointers to the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Nicky Henderson-trained OK Corral is 7-2 favourite for the Festival prize after an impressive six-length in the Listed Hampton Novices’ Chase under his intended big-race rider, crack Irish amateur Derek O’Connor.
The NH Chase is also the target of Neil Mulholland’s Impulsive Star, who is a short as 10-1 after winning Warwick’s Classic Chase.
The 20-year-old’s father was champion jump jockey twice and rode over 900 winners
Trainer Dan Skelton has a hugely promising novice hurdler on his hands in Beakstown, who landed Warwick’s Grade Two Leamington Novices’ Hurdle ridden by his brother Harry.
The physically-imposing Beakstown is built for steeplechasing but his owner Bryan Drew said he might be prepared to run the six-year-old in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival.
Skelton said: ‘He is far from the finished article. We have to have in mind what a chaser he will be.’