Jonjo O’Neill Jr. is up at Ayr for Scottish Grand National Day and the Betfred Ambassador has spoken to us about his rides on Saturday and first up he tells us his thoughts about Scottish Champion Hurdle runner Soaring Glory, who as of Friday morning was the 11/2 second-favourite with us at Betfred…
‘Yeah he’s had a tough season to be honest, didn’t really like chasing and he was on very heavy ground on New Year’s Eve. After that he’s run quite well, he’s a fresh horse through the spring and we’ve always had this in the back of our minds. He’s slowly dropping down the handicap but he has been paying the penalty for what he’s done. We’re looking forward to running him but he’s going to need to improve on what he’s been showing recently.’
Next up he spoke about his ride in the big one where once again he’s on board one of the top choices, the 9/2 joint-favourite as of Friday morning, Monbeg Genius and we started off by asking him whether he has the right profile for this sort of race…
‘I suppose he does yeah, he’s a novice at improving weight. He’s improved by 21lbs since he started chasing this year, that’s plenty and whether the handicapper is just catching up with him I suppose we’ll find out. His run at Cheltenham was very good though. He probably wouldn’t want the ground too fast, he’d want it quite easy the ground, so hopefully they’ll get plenty of water on it or have a shower Friday night or Saturday morning. He’s come out of the Festival very well. Hopefully he’ll become a National horse next year but being a Novice he didn’t have the required runs this year. I suppose he’s entitled to take his chance in a good one.’
Our last question about Monbeg Genius was about whether this race was the target for the season.
‘We always thought he would improve to chasing this year. He was bought as a chaser. He’s gradually got stronger and stronger. It was always going to be something like this, probably the Midlands Grand National or this but he ran in the Ultima and did very well in that. I think this has been a long-term plan and you know hopefully as long as the ground is on the slow side he should run well.’
His final ride comes in the last where once again he’s expected to be on a real decent shot as he gets on board Impatient in a race that Sprinter Sacre won back in 2010. Is he at that level we pondered…?
‘I’m not sure he’s quite there yet. He’s got a good bit to prove still but he’s a nice horse who was quite green at Newcastle first time out. Had a good long break and should go well fresh again. He’ll be a nice horse next year. Still has to fill out into his frame but (owner) Ronnie (Bartlett) is Scottish and you know he likes to have runners up there so hopefully he’ll go well for him.’
With just one week to go of the jumps season, you have two big prizes and two decent chances, are you looking forward to it?
‘Yeah definitely, The jumps season is coming to a close soon enough but we have a few darts to fire yet so hopefully one of them, I wouldn’t mind if two of them come in and do the business!’
Good luck to Jonjo on Saturday and you can bet on his rides with us at Betfred via the button below.