Trainer Jonjo O’Neill considers the invigorated Minella Rocco deserves his place at the Cheltenham Festival next month
This JP McManus owner horse is presently 5/1 joint favourite for the St James’s Place Foxhunters chase – the likable gelding is already a proven course contender at Cheltenham, having beaten Native River in the 2016 National Hunt Chase before finishing second to Sizing John in the subsequent year’s Gold Cup, and O’Neill is savouring another chance at festival splendour with the now ten-year-old.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Minella Rocco – his form had gone to some extent wayward, so O’Neil sent him down the hunter chase route in despair to find his grade, and mercifully he won on first time of asking at Warwick racecourse. The next time out was a much sterner mission at Weatherby meeting present champion hunter Hazel Hill, though he outran his odds beaten Hazel Hill by a length and a half, his rival lost all his winning chance by constantly jumping out to his right nonetheless with all things considered Minella Rocco’s jumping was almost flawless and he travelled much the best throughout.
“A much needed boast to his form and going forward he deserves to be considered a leading player in the hunter chase sphere”.
Speaking of the return-to-form, Jonjo O’Neil insisted; “It’s great to see him do well. Obviously, it’s wonderful when they get their confidence back, he then added; “Being honest, he’s been lucky twice, but he’ll go to Cheltenham now. He justifies being there — he’s qualified and though how lucky he’s been, he can only beat what’s put in front of him”.