The O’Neill family enjoyed another successful day at the races courtesy of brothers Jonjo junior and AJ.
Watched on by a host of delighted relatives, the teenaged duo both won pony races on the same day that AJ celebrated his 15th birthday and dad Jonjo – who drove the horsebox – turned 62.
Jonjo junior, an aspiring jump jockey, gained his win aboard Miss Wonderful at Stratford after AJ had scored on Mrs Mac at Wincanton.
Reflecting on his success, Jonjo junior said: “The ground changed during the day to good-to-firm.
“It was only my second race on her because we only bought her this season and she had won on heavy ground, so I was a bit concerned about that.
“We went off at a pretty good gallop and because it wasn’t very soft, on the first turn they weren’t really getting their feet into it and they were skidding around the first turn.
“But she travelled very well, way better than in her last race, and she was taking me wherever I wanted to put her.
“I knew the dangers were Wotarisk, who was out in front down the back, and Billy Jean, who was just in behind me.
“My pony doesn’t do a huge amount in front so I wanted to track Wotarisk all the way.
“Coming into the home turn I thought I had Wotarisk covered, but I knew Billy Jean was coming up the inner.
“When I hit the furlong marker I knew my pony would keep going from there.”
Jonjo junior will follow the example of one of his predecessors at Cheltenham College, leading jockey Tom Scudamore, by staying on at school before trying to carve out his own career over jumps.
“I’d like to be a National Hunt jockey, that’s the plan anyway,” he said.
“I’ll stay on at school to 18 because that what’s Tom Scudamore did and he went to the same school, then hopefully go into racing and riding.
“It will give me more options, but I wouldn’t be able to leave school at 16 anyway – Mum and Dad wouldn’t let me.”
Unlike his brother, AJ said he had yet to make a decision about his future career path, but he enjoyed the victory on Mrs Mac.
“It went really well,” said the Cheltenham College pupil.
“Mrs Mac was really good and managed to maintain a high cruising speed.”
Both Jonjo junior and AJ ride out at their dad’s base at Jackdaws Castle during the school holidays and are due to ride in pony races again over Easter.