Jonjo’s wife, Jackie O’Neill and owner Roger Hart, were the wonderful hosts and before the group had got their boots on or seen a racehorse, champagne corks were popping and guests had the chance to hear about Jonjo’s success as a jockey and now as one of UK & Ireland’s most successful trainers.
Currently in his 17th season at state-of-the-art complex known as Jackdaw’s Castle, Jonjo has joined an elite band of trainers with 2,000 winners, among them 26 Cheltenham Festival successes and, famously in April 2010, the Grand National at Aintree with Don’t Push It the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Synchronised.
The group had a taste of what it feels like to be an owner, in the Jackdaw’s Castle owner’s lounge, amongst the silverware and photographs of successes, including a wall to wall image of Synchronised winning the 2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Next the group put their boots on, although they were hardly needed as the yard and gallops at Jackdaw’s Castle, a purpose-built facility are all immaculate. Friendly and welcoming staff, relaxed horses and a peaceful setting – with the yard’s mantra – happy staff equals happy horses and racing is all about having fun, the group knew this was going to be a memorable visit.
Around 15 professionals including solicitors, surveyors, an antiques specialist, bloodstock insurance broker and property agents had a tour of the yards meeting some of the horses. Next, they headed into the indoor school where they studied the work sheet and learnt about the routine of this busy yard with around 110 horses which are ridden out each day, save for Sunday.
Next stop was to see some of the indoor exercise areas including a barn with four horse walkers, used for warming up and cooling off horses. Then a stomp out to the gallops with the third lot; the group saw the horses working on the all-weather gallops and also jump schooling. Jonjo could be seen driving alongside the gallops watching the horses.
Heading back into the yards, the City Saddles members watched one of the racehorses having a morning swim session in the equine pool, with a chance to warm up under the solarium (for horses of course) before returning to the Owner’s Lounge for a champagne breakfast and chance to join one of Jonjo’s racing syndicate’s!
‘A perfect start to the weekend’ said one member. All members make a donation to Spinal Research when they attend an event, and this event is expected to have raised more than £500 for the charity, putting the groups fundraising over £3,600 to date.
City Saddles next event is a visit to British Event Rider Charlotte Agnew’s yard on Sunday 14 October 2018 in Gloucestershire. Get in touch to book the last remaining spaces!
For more information about City Saddles or to book onto the next event –email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Jonjo O’Neill and Jackdaw’s Castle – visit www.jonjooneillracing.com