O’Neill thrilled as luck turns

Sunnyhillboy (13-2 favourite) provided Jonjo O’Neill with a second winner of the week in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup.

While his form figures left something to be desired, the betting suggested a big run was expected.

Second in the Byrne Group Plate in 2010 and third in the Irish Grand National last season, he was given a confident ride by Alan Berry.

Becauseicouldntsee made a very bold bid from the front and had everything else in trouble, but failed to hold the late surge of the winner.

O’Neill’s nine-year-old went on to win by four-and-a-half lengths with Exmoor Ranger third and Up The Beat fourth.

O’Neill said: “He’s a brilliant little horse and he loves this place, he’s been unlucky down the years but he’s great for the yard.

“He’s not very big and I always feel he’s better on better ground but he stays well. I wanted to run him in the Pertemps if I’d had a choice but he couldn’t get in.

“We were left with this so that was that.

“Alan’s ridden a few festival winners, he’s a great lad and a big part of the team and he did all the work on Don’t Push It before he won the National.

“We haven’t really discussed it but I think he’d be able to handle the National. If he could get over the first couple all right I’m sure he’d run a big race.”

O’Neill runs Synchronised in today’s Gold Cup and added: “The ground is better than we expected it to be for Synchronised in the Gold Cup, he’s there with his chance. He’s in great form.”

Berry said: “He’s a genuine horse and he deserves a race like that, he’s done nothing wrong but you can only be so confident coming to Cheltenham.

“It all worked out well, I got a nice run down the inner.

“I don’t think I travelled a yard throughout the first half of the race but then he came to life and started jumping away.

“He’s a horse I ride at home all the time. He impresses in everything he does but he is getting a bit older and a bit slower.”

Noel Glynn, trainer of the runner-up, said: “He always seems to find one too good but it might be a different proposition off 10st 3lb in the National.

“Everything went to plan but the other one went by us with a stone in hand.

“It’s disappointing and you’d rather be in pole position but he’s done us proud.”


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