Jonjo O'Neill junior hits the Big Time with Lanzarote win

Jonjo O'Neill junior riding Palmer's Hill earlier in the season
Jonjo O'Neill junior riding Palmer's Hill earlier in the season

Jonjo O'Neill junior celebrated the biggest winner of his career with victory aboard Big Time Dancer in the Unibet Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle.

The 20-year-old spent most of last year on the sidelines with a back injury and continued to make up for lost time after triumphing in the Listed contest aboard the 16/1 shot.

Son of former champion jockey Jonjo O'Neill, the 5lb claimer bided his time before forging the Jennie Candlish-trained six-year-old on late in the two-mile-five-furlong contest, crossing the line a length and a half clear of Solomon Grey.

The winning rider said: "It is amazing, really, as you are dreaming of these sort of things when you are off for eight months on the sidelines. To ride a nice winner like this means everything.

"I was always confident on him. He travelled really well and jumped unbelievable and every position I put him in he answered my call straight away. He made it very easy for me."

He added: "I'm trying to be my own self and I want to be a jockey. I take advice and he (O'Neill senior) 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!"

Connections of the 16/1 winner hinted a trip to Aintree could be on the agenda later in the season, should the ground be in his favour.

Assistant trainer Alan O'Keeffe said: "It is nice to get a big one like that. Jennie has done a great job with the horse. He has had a few problems, his wind was one.

"We've not had a lot of runners recently, as they want proper soft ground, but this one doesn't. I just thought we rarely get a Lanzarote run on ground like that and he loves that ground.

"He got a great ride and this lad (O'Neill) is going places. It is great for the yard to come down here and get one like that.

"He will have a little break, but his future lies chasing. We won't give him an overly-long break and we will look at Aintree."


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