AJ O'Neill follows in dad Jonjo's footsteps
THE famous O'Neill horseracing family are celebrating yet more success at Cheltenham Racecourse.
Only weeks after dad Jonjo trained Synchronised to gain a famous victory in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, son AJ has ridden his first winner at the home of jump racing.
He gained his landmark winner aboard Little Chick on Pony Racing Day to continue his family's love affair with Prestbury Park.
Little Chick had carried AJ's brother Jonjo junior, 14, to victory at the pony racing day last year.
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AJ, who owns Little Chick with his brother, said: "It was amazing, the race went really well.
"I was told to get a good start and not to get left behind.
"It was really exciting to win and a good feeling. Little Chick is a really nice pony."
AJ was away on a skiing holiday with school during the build-up to the race, so Jonjo junior got Little Chick fit for the race by riding the pony on the roads around his dad's stable in Temple Guiting.
The hard paid off as AJ and Little Chick claimed first place in the Drinkwater Construction LLP Intermediate Stakes.
In second place was Abbie McCain, the 12-year-old daughter of Grand National-winning trainer Donald McCain, aboard Revara Super Ted.
Paying tribute to his older brother for helping him out, AJ said: "He's been really good to me."
AJ will turn 13 next Friday, the same day his dad will reach 60 years old.
Though they share a birthday, AJ said he was not sure yet whether he wanted to follow in his dad's footsteps and become a jockey.
But whether he does or not, AJ will remember his momentous day for years to come.
Mum Jacqui said: "Any winner at Cheltenham is just magic and for the two boys to ride their first winner at Cheltenham is fantastic and it's something they will always treasure."
Seven pony races were staged in the afternoon after a morning of activities for youngsters, including riding demonstrations by professional jockeys and the chance to see fences up close.
The chief executive of the Pony Racing Authority Rebecca Morgan, who is based at Cheltenham Racecourse, said the whole day went well.
"It was a pity about the rain, but the children didn't seem to mind," she said.
"There was a real mix of riders, with some having never ridden before and others with more experience.
"The smiles on their faces told a million stories."