Jonjo O'Neill: My Festival team

  • Last Updated: February 27 2014, 17:35 GMT

Jonjo O'Neill talks us through the Jackdaw's Castle team for the Cheltenham Festival.

The O'Neill team are put through their paces on Thursday morning
The O'Neill team are put through their paces on Thursday morning

Taquin Du Seuil:

He will get a proper gallop in the JLT, which he hasn't had a couple of times this season. A couple of his races were Micky Mouse gallops. If they go a good gallop, he could run well.

Obviously, there is not much between Oscar Whisky and Taquin Du Seuil. Oscar was a good horse over hurdles, but Taquin is a good horse and, as long as the ground does not dry out too much, he will run well. He is best on soft ground, though I will run him on good ground but he wouldn't want it to dry out.

I know he likes a good pace in his races and I could not have him in better shape - he is in really good form.

I am very happy with my fellow and, last time, there was not much between him and Oscar (three quarters of a length) at Cheltenham and they were some 15 lengths ahead of the third.

He jumps well, he travels well and he does everything well. His run at The Festival last year was not his form but he has run well at Cheltenham over fences since so I don't think it was the course. I'd be very happy with him. He really does excite me.

Alfie Sherrin:

At the moment, he won't get in [the Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase], which has put a bit of a blocker on it, as he is too far down the weights. He has got a bit of a wind problem and his joints can cause problems so he is not the easiest horse to keep sound. But he is in great form at the moment and that's why I have not run him because of the heavy ground.

Hopefully, we have done the right thing and kept him fresh. He has done a lot of work in he's great shape but it's a hard thing to do to go to the Festival without a run for so long. We hope to run him.

Johns Spirit:

He is in great form - he worked brilliantly the other morning. The reason he hasn't run is he keeps getting sore shins. He was fired and blistered after his last race so we have done a proper job on him. The owner was away until now in New Zealand so it has suited us not to run him, in any case.

He has got stronger this season and is much happier in himself. He goes well for Richie (McLernon) and they suit each other. I would blame the shins for his last run. He was sore after the Paddy Power and we struggled to get him back for the race in December. He ran well off a higher rating and it is a hard thing to do - win both the Paddy Power and that race. You need to come out of the Paddy Power flying and he came out sore. It is a hard race, the Paddy Power.

He is working fantastically at the minute and I hope it stays that way for the next two weeks. He goes for the Byrne Group Plate.

More Of That:

He is in good shape and it looks like he will stay the three miles of the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. He won at Haydock because he stayed. Do I have a doubt in my mind? Well, I think he will stay, though going to Cheltenham for The Festival is a hard thing to do, they don't hang around and the finish is up a hill. We don't really know.

I am not totally sure he will go for the World Hurdle but he is ready to go and I would think Richie (McLernon) will ride him. Richie won on him first time out and knows the horse well.

More Of That is a good traveller in his races but it makes me nervous that he has not raced over three miles before - it is going into the unknown. He is a fair horse but how strong is his form? I would think AP (McCoy) will ride At Fisher's Cross but he will come to ride work this week and next week and make his mind up. I hope he rides ours.

Goodwood Mirage:

If Goodwood Mirage acts on the track, he will run a cracker. I am worried about him coming down the hill because he has a floating chip in his joint - some days it is grand, other days it is not. That and he wants gelding.

He ran well at Kempton on Saturday. He runs very free early on - he is not the easiest but he stays well. I would have preferred going for the Triumph Hurdle but he is not good enough for that, so he goes for the Fred Winter and I'm looking forward to running him.


I am not too sure yet in which race he will run because the handicapper gave him 145 and he beat a horse at Doncaster rated 132. So I don't know where he got the handicap mark from. We will see. He might even go back to hurdles for the World Hurdle. We'll see what everybody else. I really don't know.

Mountain Tunes:

To me, he will be a lovely horse next season over fences. Whether he will run at The Festival, I don't know. He's in the Albert Bartlett, but to be totally honest, I'm not sure if he's quite good enough.

Dursey Sound:

He won't be going anywhere after the way he ran the other day.

Burton Port:

He's going to Newbury on Saturday and we're trying him with blinkers. I'd hoped he'd run better last time at Doncaster after we'd got his wind done, but he ran awfully. We'll ride him more handily and try and get him to enjoy himself.


Shutthefrontdoor is a possibility for the National Hunt Chase, but he is also in the RSA Chase and the handicap on the opening day. We will have to wait and see what Frank [Berry, racing manager to owner J P McManus] says. He might not have the experience for the handicap race at the moment but he is a nice horse and in great form at the minute. The handicap hasn't been mentioned that much - that's all I can tell you.

He had a little operation on his wind since his last run and I'd hoped to run him at Wetherby afterwards but the ground was really testing. No disrespect to Wetherby but I didn't want to drag the guts out of him there and have it cost him his chance at the Festival so I thought we'd better wait.


He is in in the Country Hurdle and the Coral Cup but I think he will be better over further. He was staying on in the Betfair Hurdle when the race was over. He wasn't able to stay with them when they quickened, but he ran well. I would imagine that the Coral Cup is the race he will go for but it depends upon what JP will have running and what AP wants to ride.

Josies Orders:

He won his qualifier for the Pertemps at Huntingdon and he'll go for the Final in good form. I'd probably run Upswing and Open Day in that race too if they get in. Whatever gets in will probably run in that race.

Get Me Out Of Here:

He is in the County and the Coral and I'd go with the County at the moment. He ran very well over two miles at Cheltenham in December. He has been beaten in both races previously and it will depend on what other horses JP will have running. He is great old shape at the moment. He is another one who is so difficult to keep right - he's had more problems than I have!


Eastlake will go for the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual. He has been running well this season - he would be better with a bit better ground as it won't catch his wind so much. He is what he is, but he likes Cheltenham which helps.

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