An Interview with Jonjo O’Neill Jr

JonJo

Hi guys!

Today I am very excited to bring to you an interview with a brilliant up and coming young jockey, Jonjo O’Neill Jr. Jonjo has rode some incredible horses in some incredible races and he is only just getting started, I was lucky enough to interview Jonjo and really get an insight into to him and his career.

—–

Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Jonjo: Favourite race, I would say has to be the Martin Pipe Conditional Race at Cheltenham last year. It was my first festival winner and you know, you never forget your first.

Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past or present, what horse would you choose?

Jonjo: I suppose Kauto Star probably in his prime, he is the best horse in the modern era.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?

Jonjo: Regarding the whip, erm it’s an absolute necessity for a jockey to have a whip. For safety and for encouragement. The whips nowadays are so well padded, they don’t hurt whatsoever, they just make a sound. So yeah, it’s vital for a jockey to carry a whip with them.

Me: JP McManus is obviously a huge name in racing, what is it like riding for him as an owner?

Jonjo: Yes, I feel very lucky to ride for JP, on a relatively regular basis. I have had quite a bit of luck for them in the past couple of seasons and hopefully that can continue. Obviously it’s the most recognised colours in England, Ireland and France probably. He’s great for the sport and got loads of nice horses and it’s great when we have winners for them as they’ve been great supporters of ours and he’s a gentleman.

Me: No pressure, but when I asked Richard Johnson his bet of the season, he said Lostintranslation to win the Betfair Chase, which of course he did, so what is your bet of the season?

Jonjo: Tiger Roll to win the Cross Country Chase would be my bet of the season.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Jonjo: Racing is not cruel, you know, it’s been a sport in this country for centuries. The Queen is involved and has loads of horses. So many influential people. It is not a cruel sport. These horses have been bred for hundreds of years to do this sport. You know, you got horses like Tiger Roll winning two Grand Nationals and going for his third Grand National, you can’t say he doesn’t like racing.

Me: Obviously AP McCoy has regularly played a huge part in the Jackdaws team – How important has it been to your career having someone as good as him to idolise and look up to?

Jonjo: Yeah AP is definitely someone I have looked up to when I was a kid watching racing and he was riding for Dad and JP. We are very lucky to be able to ask advice from him and you know, he is very good like that and he is obviously a top class sportsman and you can only learn from him.

Me: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given by your dad?

Jonjo: Best advice would probably be, be good to everyone you meet on the way up because you’ll meet them all again on the way down.

Me: You have rode Native River to win the Denman Chase, my all time favourite horse, how was that for you? How special of a horse is he? What do you think his chances are in the Gold Cup this year? And with a lot of people speculating, do you ever, personally, see him being a National horse?

Jonjo: Yeah, Native River, he was absolutely deadly last weekend. It doesn’t look like he’s lost any sparkle, he won nicely and jumped great. If the ground came up soft in the Gold Cup, he isn’t without a shout, it’s a very open Gold Cup. Whether I think he’d suit a National? He’d definitely suit the National. Whether he goes for it this year or maybe more next year, he looks to be well weighted this year. He got compressed two pounds. You know, it looks like it would suit him down to the ground, but when it’s an open Gold Cup you’d have to chance your arm in the Gold Cup as well.

Me: What is one race you’d love to win?

Jonjo: It would be between the National and the Gold Cup. But I would love to win the Gold Cup. The Gold Cup is usually the best horse in the season, it’s the most prestigious race of the season.

Me: What would be your ‘horse to watch’ for the next season or two?

Jonjo: Erm, Soaring Glory, he’s won two bumpers and will probably go to Aintree. He’s a very nice horse and hopefully he’ll have more of a future over hurdles next season.

Me: You’re still so young and have already achieved some incredible things, what is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or something else?

Jonjo: Just take every little bit of advice and help from everyone that has experienced the game. You can never stop learning in racing and you know, it’s full of ups and downs. And you just have to stay grounded, because there are some serious highs and some serious lows as well, so I think just literally take every bit of advice from everyone as it can help all the way down the line.

—–

Firstly I want to say a massive thank you to Jonjo for taking time out of his day to allow me to interview him. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to interview Jonjo and I hope you have all enjoyed reading it!

See you all very soon for my next post!

sign

 

 

A Horse Racing Question & Answer – Answering YOUR questions!

Q&A

Hiya!

Welcome to this weekends post, it is a slightly different post, but one I felt I should do, I get asked so many questions about racing and my love for the sport so I thought I would get them all answered in one post. Throughout this week I have placed a question box on multiple Instagram stories for you to throw your questions at me and I had so many more than I imagined. So I am going to jump straight into it and get answering every single one of them! Some were similar questions to others so they will be answered within one question if that makes sense! So lets go!

—–

1) How did you get into horse racing?

This is probably my MOST asked question EVER. My dad has always watched racing, so from a very young age I watched it with him. One of my earliest memories in my life is when I was around 5/6 years old and we were at Stratford racecourse in the centre of the course, AP McCoy had had a fall around the back, so was walking back around and I shouted “look mom it’s AP” because at that point he was one of the only people I actually knew in racing. And as he always has been, he was a complete gentleman, who came straight over to us and took photos and signed my dad’s programme and I guess growing up I stuck with the sport and now I absolutely love it.

2) What horses do you have shares in?

So as everybody knows by now, I have shares in Pentland Hills trained by Nicky Henderson. I also have Sabrina trained by Paul Nicholls, Paris Dixie trained by Nicky Henderson, Gylo trained by Dan Skelton, Gilka trained by Dan Skelton and Cable Guy trained by Charlie Fellowes.

3) Do you still think Pentland Hills can win the Champion Hurdle after Haydock?

Personally I say we can’t rule him out, with more pace – which the CH should have – I think he would be perfectly fine and certainly come close. I’m not saying he’s a record breaking horse, but he is still very very young, only 5 years old, if it doesn’t happen for him this year he has plenty of time to achieve great things. He has already done incredibly well, so he owes us nothing at all.

4) True opinions of the Owners Group?

For me, there are many many aspects I don’t like about Owners Group, these I have voiced to the management of Owners Group and are being investigated so I won’t comment any further. But for £40-£60 a year and a taste of being an ‘owner’ I can’t complain. It’s more for the passion of the sport rather than trying to make money etc. 

5) Are you planning on visiting any smaller yards?

This is literally a question I am asked so much. And the simple answer is yes, I have a few smaller, lesser known yards planned for this year. If anyone has any yards in particular they would love me to cover then drop me a message and I will try my best to arrange those!

6) Do you get paid for the content you create?

The simple answer is no, I don’t. I have worked in social media and blogging for a long while so some posts I have across Instagram & Twitter are occasionally sponsored/paid/ads/gifted, all of which I always hashtag due to new laws, but as far as blog content is concerned I don’t get paid for it, it is simply a passion!

7) Flat or jumps?

To put it simply, jumps. I have always preferred jumps racing, I don’t really know why, that’s just my preference. I do still enjoy flat racing, I just very much prefer jumps!

8) Opinions on Little Rory Mac?

I have spoken out about this situation a million and one times over on Twitter, he’s now gone to new owners and a new trainer so I guess we will see what happens. I dislike the owner, I think his attitude is disgusting and I think the BHA need to do more to stop him from essentially bragging on social media with a photo of a handbrake etc, that is all I am saying on the matter, I am sure most of you have seen my opinions loud and clear on Twitter.

9) Are you going to Cheltenham?

I am. I will be there on the Tuesday and Friday this year, my personal favourite two days!

10) Who is your favourite horse past or present?

Okay, so personally I have 2 favourite horses ever, one is Native River, the other is Faugheen. Each for their own reason, they’re just the two horses I truly adore with my whole heart.

11) Best stable visit you have had so far?

Honestly, I don’t have a favourite. I have thoroughly enjoyed each visit I have had, they have all been so welcoming and I’ve loved every single one. Every yard is ran slightly differently so I have loved every one of them and learning how different they all are.

12) What other plans do you have for your blog this year? Interviews? Yard visits?

I actually have so much planned. More stable visits, more interviews, more guest posts, honestly some amazing content. Keep your eyes peeled is all I can say!

13) How long have you liked racing?

I went racing with my parents from a very very young age, I only really started to understand it and get into it properly from around 15/16 years old though.

14) What is your goal for 2020?

Within racing/blogging my goal is to continue doing what I love, to continue introducing new people into the sport I love and just enjoying what I do. I think if you enjoy what you do then it’s all worth it in the end.

15) Do you have a bucket list? Dubai World Cup? Breeders Cup?

Of course! What horse racing fan doesn’t? The two I have always wanted to see are the Melbourne Cup and Breeders Cup!

16) Cheltenham Festival – Who wins the Supreme, Ballymore and Triumph?

I think it’s still so early to be able to tell, trainers have so many options for their horses so for me I can’t call it this early, however personal views… Triumph – Allmankind is a very impressive horse, 3 from 3 so far, Dan (Skelton) has said he’ll now be rested until the Festival, I think he’s a class horse, definitely in with a shout. Ballymore – Envoi Allen is just a class horse, I don’t see anything beating him. Supreme – I like the look of Andy Dufresne, I think Gordon will avoid Envoi Allen personally so 100% a strong contender for the Supreme if entered.

17) What race are you most excited for at the Cheltenham Festival this year?

Ooo, interesting question, I think for me this year it has to be the Champion Hurdle. Normally it’s typical Buveur d’Air to win, but this year with him out, it is so wide open. I can’t call it, so many talented horses potentially to run, I think it’ll definitely be an exciting race to watch!

18) Opinions on a 5 day Festival?

Erm, I don’t see the point really. I mean 4 days is sufficient, I feel as though they will dilute the rest of the week just to add another day. Quality over quantity springs to mind. Personally think it’s just a money making idea.

19) Who is your favourite trainer and jockey?

Interesting question, for me my favourite jockey is probably between Richard Johnson – Just a brilliant ambassador for the sport and probably Sam Twiston-Davies who was one of the first jockey’s I really started to follow when I was getting into racing. I don’t particularly have a favourite trainer, there’s a few I follow and like but I wouldn’t say I have a favourite.

20) Opinions on bloggers interviewing people on race days?

Personally I don’t see an issue with it, if the jockey/trainer/owner is happy to be interviewed then what’s the issue? It’s the 21st century, the sport needs to get with it and realise that blogging and social media is absolutely massive right now and only getting bigger, so surely they should be encouraging younger people to blog and post on social media to get the sport reaching a new and younger generation.

21) Favourite racecourse you have been to?

I loved York. I think it is just a gorgeous place, definitely one of my favourites so far.

22) Thoughts on Bryony Frost?

I think she’s incredible. She is doing incredible and she’s a brilliant ambassador for the sport.

23) Would you like to do blogging as a full time job?

I mean, what blogger wouldn’t? It would be a dream to do something I love as a full time job, maybe one day!

24) Favourite horse you have met so far on your visits?

There is only one answer to this question and of course that is Native River. If you know me you’ll know that Native River is and always has been one of my favourite horses, so to finally meet him and have a cuddle was a dream.

25) Are you going to visit any Irish yards?

I hope so! Keep your eyes peeled.

26) Honest (not biased) opinion, is Pentland Hills as good as he was last year?

Erm, it’s a tough one. I think last year he surprised a lot of people, even those who had brought shares, he just sort of came out of nowhere. I think he’s had two decent runs, first run maybe disappointing, second run to be pipped on the line is heartbreaking. I think he’s looking good, I just don’t think we can compare him to last year because he’s gone up to a whole new level. He’s only five years old, so we need to see how things go I suppose.

27) Tip of the Festival?

Surely after yesterday’s performance it has to be Paisley Park? Ridiculously talented horse, think he’s incredible honestly.

28) Do you think Pentland Hills wins the Champion Hurdle?

I mean it would be nice, but the Champion Hurdle is wide open this year so anyone could win it really.

29) Who do you go with to the racing/tours?

I go with my Mom and Dad, nothing better than spending time with the two most important people in my life doing something we all love and enjoy!

30) What are your plans for your YouTube channel?

I am planning to do a lot of Vlog style videos visiting stables/races etc. I have so many videos from stable visits that never get posted anywhere so I would love to put them into Vlog style videos!

—–

So there we have it, the top 30 questions I have been asked this week about racing. I hope it gives you a bit more of an insight into me and why I love racing. I have some super exciting posts the next couple weeks so keep your eyes peeled.

See you all in my next post!

sign

VIP Stable Visit to Colin Tizzard’s Venn Farm

Colin Tizzard

Hi guys!

So if you follow me on social media, you will know just how excited I was about my day yesterday. Being able to visit Colin Tizzard’s yard and seeing my favourite ever horse Native River! We had the best experience and the team were all incredible. If you know me you will know how much I love horse racing and how much I love Native River, so yesterday was honestly just an incredible day that I will never forget.

When we arrived, we were met by Joe Tizzard, Colin’s son and assistant trainer, he briefly showed us around the stable, including meeting Native River for the first time, which was a dream. 

IMG_4601  IMG_4602

We then went out onto the gallops to watch some of the horses work. Again, seeing Joe at work with the team was an honour to watch, he knew every horse by name, every member of staff by name, it was a lovely thing to see.

IMG_4608IMG_4637

We then was lucky enough to go into Joe’s office and watch him enter and declare horses for the next few days/weeks, including him declaring Lostintranslation for tomorrow Betfair Chase. Joe was very open with us and answered every question we had and showed us the behind the scenes that we don’t ever get to see. The hard, tedious work of finding races, putting horses into races and making sure all of the deadlines are met to enter and declare the horses. 

We then went back out to the gallops, where I had the absolute pleasure of watching my favourite every horse Native River working! He looked in great shape and Joe was very happy with him, it was truly an honour to watch a horse I have followed for years actually at work. We also seen Thistlecrack, who again, was in great shape and looked incredible.

IMG_4646

We spoke to so many members of staff, one in particular who was riding out on Native River, said he sometimes takes it for granted being able to work with such incredible athletes because he does it every single day and it isn’t until he sees people visit and sees how excited they get to meet these incredible stable stars that they really appreciate the job that they get to do every single day. Again, the staff were all lovely, everybody spoke and made us feel welcome and answered any questions we had.

Once back to the yard, Joe took us to meet an incredible horse who won on Wednesday The Big Breakaway, he took us into his stable and showed us just how soft a horse can be, cuddling up to everyone and just being really relaxed and chilled out. Which was so lovely to see.

IMG_5239

After we had our bacon rolls and a cuppa, we were then able to go around and meet more of the stable stars, which of course we took full advantage of!

IMG_4689IMG_4716IMG_4700IMG_4697IMG_4701

We then met the lovely Lostintranslation, who may I add, is the most calm, loving, gentle horse I have ever met. He was also the biggest poser you could ever imagine. But with a big race coming up, I loved being able to meet him before he becomes one of the most famous horses in the country.

IMG_5256IMG_5254

I then got the biggest honour ever, I got to walk Native River home to his stable and put his blanket and coat on. Which may seem like such a small gesture from the team, but to me it was an absolute dream. 

IMG_4726IMG_4732IMG_5261IMG_5242

IMG_5251

Colin Tizzard is an incredible trainer along with his whole team, they all work so hard, they are literally non-stop all morning and they deserve every piece of credit they get. I want to say a massive thank you to Joe for his incredible hospitality and being so lovely and welcoming and giving us one of the most incredible days. 

One thing I can say, is if you get the opportunity to go to a stable visit, to any of the yards, then 100% take it, each stable visit I go to is completely different, but one thing that is the exact same in each yard is the love they have for these animals and how much they care and look after them. It’s an incredible setting and everybody involved in the sport are all lovely.

I hope you enjoy this little behind the scenes of Venn Farm!

sign