Jonjo’s top five: a quintet of O’Neill’s finest

Jonjo O'Neill won the Grand National with Don't Push It in 2010

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Jonjo's top five: a quintet of O'Neill's finest By Stuart Riley 3:50PM 13 OCT 2016

Jonjo O'Neill landed what may have been the luckiest win of his 2,000 successes with Centuro, but he has not been short of quality winners either. Here are five of his best.

Intersky Falcon delivered O'Neill a first open-company Grade 1

PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)

Intersky Falcon

When Intersky Falcon landed the 2002 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton he was O'Neill's first open company Grade 1 winner. What is surprising for a man that has become so famed for his handling of staying chasers, is that like O'Neill's three previous juvenile/novice Grade 1 winners, Intersky Falcon was a two-mile hurdler. The following year he added the John James McManus Memorial Hurdle at Tipperary and a second Christmas Hurdle, from Champion Hurdler Rooster Booster. While he never conquered Cheltenham himself, the best he managed was third in Hardy Eustace's first Champion Hurdle, while he also chased home Harchibald in the 2005 Bula.

Iris's Gift (left) won 14 of 25 career starts

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

Iris's Gift

O'Neill's first superstar, and a winner of 14 of his 25 career starts, Iris's Gift was such a talented novice he went straight into open company at the Cheltenham Festival and found only the incredible Baracouda three-quarters of a length too good in the 2003 stayers' hurdle. By 2004, despite a troubled preparation, he got the better of that same rival by a length and a half in one of the sport's great ding-dong battles. Injuries robbed him of achieving as much over fences.

Albertas Run was successful in the Ryanair Chase in 2010 and 2011

PICTURE: Getty Images

Albertas Run

If ever a horse epitomised O'Neill's ability to get a horse to peak for the festival, it was Albertas Run. His brilliant four-and-a-half length 2008 Royal & SunAlliance Chase success was followed by Ryanair glory in 2010 and 2011. In the time from his first festival triumph he was successful just three times away from Cheltenham, but come March, and some O'Neill magic, he was exceptional.

Don't Push It secured both O'Neill and McCoy a first Grand National

PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)

Don't Push It

The crowning achievement of not one, but two, careers. Tony McCoy will forever be remembered, stood up in the irons, fist pumping, whip waving, mouth roaring, as he finally crossed the Grand National finish line in front. But it was O'Neill who delivered him so spectacularly. He took the horse he had living with the sheep for company and won the biggest jumps race in the world.

Tony McCoy produced one of his magical rides to win the Gold Cup

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

Synchronised

Having won a more testing than usual 2010 Midlands National as a novice, Synchronised looked to have achieve all he was going to achieve when winning the Welsh National. But O'Neill had other ideas. A year and four defeats later, Synchronised went to Leopardstown and won the Lexus. Then, in March, he won racing's blue ribbon event, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He lost his life in tragic circumstances after running loose after a fall in the Grand National, but he will forever be remembered for causing a shock in the Gold Cup.

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