Trainer in Focus – Jonjo O’Neill
Jonjo O’Neill is a former jockey turned trainer. He had great success in the saddle and is best known in the training sphere for having runners under the J P McManus green and gold silks. Twenty time champion Tony McCoy had ridden hundreds of winners for O’Neill before retiring this year and holds him in high regard. The diminutive Irishman has trained some high class animals, as well as some more moderate ones, and he is known for lining his runners up for gambles. Whilst primarily operating under National Hunt rules, he does have the occasional flat runner. In this article we take a look at Jonjo O’Neill’s runners under a range of conditions.
Young horses who are making their debut or have only had a limited number of starts over timber usually compete in novice hurdle races. Jonjo O’Neill has a solid record with his runners in these contests throughout the year, but excels in late spring and summer months:
Novice Hurdlers by Month
*A/E denotes actual number of winners divided by expected number of winners. A figure over 1 represents good value, anything under 1 is poor value.
Infact, O’Neill’s favourites in April-July are 40/69 (57.97%) in novice hurdle company, which is a staggeringly good record. Their overall strike rate is the highest at this time of year, and the returns are positive in each month.
Handicaps are typically competitive affairs, and Jonjo O’Neill does well with his hurdlers under these conditions:
Handicap Hurdlers by Month
Impressively, O’Neill has produced an A/E of 1.00 or more with his handicap hurdlers in 11 of 12 months. The only time he underperforms market expectations is in March. This is the month when the ultra-competitive Cheltenham festival is on, and O’Neill’s strike rate drops significantly at this time of year. He does especially well in the Spring and early Summer, with very strong results in June.
The performance of O’Neill’s last time out winners in handicap hurdles depends on how long they have been off the track;
Last Time Out Winning Handicap Hurdlers
His last time out winners off for a break of 15-90 days exceed market expectations; 61/240 (25.42%) for £55.81 LSP, giving an A/E of 1.30. Those that are turned out quickly (within 2 weeks of their last success) just slightly underperform market expectations and produce losses.
There is a clear trend when it comes to the performance of O’Neill’s runners;
Non Last Time Out Winning Handicap Hurdlers
The table shows a clear trend with his runners who did not win last time out. The quicker they get back to the track, the more frequently they win and the better returns they produce (A/E). Those runners that are 10/1 or shorter, they are 107/505 (21.19%) for £66.80 LSP, for an A/E of 1.28
Handicap Chasers by Month
Unlike with his hurdlers, O’Neill does very well with his chasers in March (has a good record with them at Cheltenham). He does well in terms of strike rate and A/E in the summer months but then struggles towards the end of the year. His handicap chasers in September-December are cumulatively 87/855 (10.18%) for a loss of £-260.12, giving an A/E of 0.83
O’Neill has a far better record with his chasers who compete over the longer trips:
Chasers by Distance
Although he has many more runners over 2miles 3f, his strike rate is better, returns are comparatively better and the A/E is positive.
Jonjo O’Neill and connections are not averse to having a tilt at the betting ring. They are also good at getting their runners well handicapped and picking the right races for their horses. This is evidenced by his record through the race classes:
Handicap Hurdlers and Chasers by Class
The lower the race class, the higher the strike rate. O’Neill does comfortably the best in Class 5 company, with a 21.45% strike rate, and his runners win nearly 40% more often than they are entitled to based on odds. Class 5 is the lowest, and generally least competitive grade and this is where shrewd race planning can be effective.
- O’Neill’s novice hurdlers excel in April-July, especially when they are market leaders.
- His handicap hurdlers do poorly in March, but produce A/E’s of 1.0 or over in all other months of the year. They have an especially good record in June.
- Jonjo’s last time out winners in handicap hurdles do well when off for 15-90 days.
- Those horses who did not win last time out in handicap hurdle company do better the faster they return to the track.
- Unlike his hurdlers, Jonjo O’Neill’s handicap chasers do well in March. They struggle from September-December.
- His handicap chasers do better over longer distances.
- O’Neill’s handicappers in Class 5 company are very profitable and are worth following.