Thursday 17 August 2017

Jonjo O'Neill

Jonjo O’Neill is a double Jockey’s Champion and National Hunt racehorse trainer. 
One of the most successful trainers in the UK and Ireland, he’s still the only person to ride and train a winner on the flat and over fences at Ascot and to have reached 100 wins in a season as a jockey and a trainer. 
Born in County Cork, after leaving school he worked as an apprentice to Michael Connolly. Winning over 900 races in his 16-year career, his first came in 1970 with a dead heat on Lana at the Curragh.
Twice named British Champion Jockey, in 1977/78 he broke the record for most winners in a season with 149. He followed that with a with a win in the first of two Cheltenham Gold Cup wins, first on Alverton in 1979. The second came in 1986 on the mare Dawn Run, who was the only horse to have also win the Champion Hurdle. 
Later that year, after coming back from serious injuries and battling cancer, O’Neill took out his trainers licence and began working at Skelton Wood End, near Penrith. After 15 years he moved to the JP McManus-owned Jackdaws Castle, Cheltenham. where he struck up a partnership with legendary jockey A.P McCoy, who stormed to victory on Don’t Push in the 2010 Grand National.
Some of his biggest wins as a trainer include Synchronised in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2012, Wichita Lineman in the William Hill Trophy at Cheltenham in 2009 and 2014 Irish Grand National winner, Shutthefrontdoor.

Saturday 5 August 2017

Walter Swinburn

Born on the 7th August in 1961, Walter Swinburn was a flat racing jockey of some note, as well as a internationally renowned trainer of racehorses. Hailing from Oxford, Swinburn became Champion Jockey in 1976 and 1977 and was the very first to win more than 100 races in a single Irish season on the flat.

Dubbed “Choirboy” by those who loved the affable jockey, which was and still is a very well populated club, Swinburn was once described as “one the biggest talents in the Sport” by Sir Michael Stoute. He will be most remembered for riding the ill fated Shergar to victory in the 1981 Derby.

He would win the Derby twice more in a star studded career that saw him win countless major domestic and international races including the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1983, the Grosser Preis von Baden in 1996, the 1981 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Ascot Gold Cup in 1991. It would simply take too long to list all of the 66 major wins in his personal scrapbook, suffice to say that he was a major figure in the sport for many years.


Disaster struck on December 12th 2016, when Walter Swinburn fell to his death in a freak accident at his Central London Home. He was taken far too young at the age 55 and there was standing room only at his funeral, with ex England Football Captain Bryan Robson amongst those paying their respects. It is believed that the ex jockey’s long standing battle with epilepsy may have played its part in the accident.

It’s fair to say that Walter “Choirboy” Swinburn will be missed. In his prime he was coolness personified and was perhaps the best ‘big race’ rider of his generation.

He was survived by his wife and two daughters.