Jonjo O’Neill Jr: Champion Conditional with a Champion Pedigree
Today it was confirmed that Jonjo O’Neill Jr has won the race to be crowned Champion Conditional, having finished the now concluded championship with a total of 61 winners to his name.
The 22-year-old from Gloucestershire has been a consistent presence in the winners’ enclosure throughout the season, gaining big race victories and breaking new ground on an increasingly regular basis.
Partnerships with leading trainers Colin Tizzard, David Pipe and his father Jonjo O’Neill Sr, have been key to this prodigious talent realising his ambition to become the top young National Hunt rider in Britain. Unsurprisingly it is his father, the legendary former Champion Jockey, who has been his son’s greatest ally; 40 of O’Neill Jr’s 61 winners have come when riding for his dad.
While riding frequent winners at every level of competition is the hallmark of a champion jockey, O’Neill Jr has also enjoyed breaking new ground on the biggest stage as the season has progressed.
The month of February saw him team up to great effect with the powerful Colin Tizard stable, landing big race winners on three successive Saturdays.
A maiden Graded victory with a pillar to post ride aboard former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River in the Grade 2 Denman Chase at Newbury on Saturday 8th February kicked things off.
🌊 Native River wins his third Betfair Denman Chase
🗓️ The last time a horse not named Native River won this race at Newbury was 2016
👏 This is a day young Jonjo O'Neill Jr will long rememberpic.twitter.com/W1WZeEzhwQ
— Sporting Life (@SportingLife) February 8, 2020
He then followed this up with another Grade 2 win in the Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot on Saturday 15th aboard another Copperhead, before completing the hat-trick with victory aboard Mister Malarkey in the Grade 3 Betway Handicap Chase at Kempton Park on February 22nd.
Mister Malarky beats a valiant Black Corton in the Betway Handicap Chase at @kemptonparkrace
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) February 22, 2020
Though the title race has concluded earlier than anticipated, the winning margin is nonetheless still emphatic; finishing a convincing 20 winners ahead of his nearest challenger Ben Jones, and 35 winners clear of the third-placed Connor Brace.