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O'Neill on the spot again with perfectly judged effort on Mister Malarky

Timing is everything for a jockey and it is no surprise that Jonjo O'Neill jnr should be an expert – he is certainly bred for the job.

His father Jonjo knew just when to pounce, as anyone old enough to recall his perfectly judged efforts on Sea Pigeon in the Champion Hurdle and the Ebor will remember.

O'Neill jnr has grabbed the opportunity provided by the injury to Richard Johnson in fine style and ridden big winners for Colin Tizzard on each of the last three Saturdays.

Successes in the Denman Chase on Native River and Copperhead in the Reynoldstown told us little new about the rider. He did a good job but they are class acts and did not require anything too out of the ordinary from the saddle.

However, the 3m Betway Handicap Chase at Kempton is always a tricky race for a jockey to judge. You generally need to be close to the pace in a race that can be hard to win from behind, but not too close that you compromise your chance of lasting the trip.

O'Neill jnr got it exactly right on Mister Malarky, prominent from the off yet not tempted to take on the bold jumping Dashing Perk up front in a race run at a strong gallop.

He took the lead five out and had enough in reserve to hold off the chasing pack – each of the next five horses home were held up as the early gallop appeared to take its toll on other prominent racers.

O'Neill jnr was thought of highly enough to ride the winner of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle for Joseph O'Brien at Cheltenham last March and he is not a bad rider to have on your side back at the festival next month.

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