O’Neill team backing Crebilly to be a Plate smasher

Novice looks potentially well treated on a mark of 140.

Hopes are high in the Jonjo O’Neill camp that Crebilly can provide the Jackdaws Castle yard with a first Cheltenham Festival winner since Sky Pirate in 2021.

O’Neill has trained 27 winners at the showpiece meeting in all and sits fifth on the list of current trainers bidding for more.

There was a time that O’Neill rarely left empty handed and as recently as 2014 he enjoyed a treble when Taquin Du Seuil, More Of That and Holywell were all victorious.

Crebilly is ante-post favourite for the TrustATrader Plate Handicap Chase having comfortably accounted for Tahmuras last time out, while he gained valuable Cheltenham experience with two runs at Prestbury Park earlier in the season. In the first of those he fell two out when upsides Ginny’s Destiny, who is a strong fancy for the Grade One Turners Novices’ Chase.

“We were very happy with the way he was running first time out this season but unfortunately he fell,” said O’Neill’s son and assistant, AJ.

“It wasn’t a reflection on his jumping, he’d actually jumped very well but he just crumpled on landing really.

“He wasn’t quite as fluent the next day (fourth) with his jumping, but when he won the other day he showed a bit more like we were hoping to see first and second time.

“Hopefully he’ll go well in the Plate and we’re happy with him.”

Springwell Bay looks to have a solid chance in the Pertemps
Springwell Bay looks to have a solid chance in the Pertemps (Nigel French/PA)

Another live chance for the yard is Springwell Bay in the Pertemps Final, having qualified when second at Musselburgh last time out.

“We were hoping for an indication of which way to go with him when he ran at Cheltenham when heavy ground and top-weight probably just got the better of him,” said O’Neill.

“We felt if he was good enough for the Stayers’ Hurdle he’d have been good enough to take on those conditions.

“Since stepping him up in trip he hasn’t won, but he was second the last day and probably showed a bit more of what we were looking for and it showed he probably does get the trip. Hopefully it doesn’t get too testing.”

Johnnywho (left) found the trip too sharp last time out
Johnnywho (left) found the trip too sharp last time out (David Davies/PA)

Johnnywho has run two solid races in graded company since winning first time out over hurdles and holds each-way claims in the Albert Bartlett.

“Johnnywho stayed very well at Newbury, he hit a bit of a flat spot before staying on strongly in the Challow,” said O’Neill.

“We hoped he’d run well at Cheltenham the last day but he got a bit outpaced over that trip (fourth to Gidleigh Park) so stepping him up in trip looked the logical thing to do.

“He’s yet to prove it, but we were very happy as the ground was very testing at Newbury. Off the back of that we’d be hopeful.”

Follow us on Twitter racing365dotcom and like our Facebook page.

Race Cards

Latest