Blog 1 – Jo O’Neill
Hi Jo, tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m 39 and have always worked as a groom in racing yards. I have been at Jonjo O’Neill’s for over eight years. I have a husband called Joe, we got married in May 2018 and I have a four-year-old Jack Russell called Daisy.
Flats or Jumps? I’ve always worked in jumps but I love going Flat racing as it’s always different to me.
How long have you been working / connected to horseracing?
I used to love visiting the races, mostly Cheltenham or Warwick when I was still at school. During my A-Levels, I started working during weekends and school holidays in a little racing yard and I loved going ‘pointing. I attended the BRS in 2000 and that got me into the industry full-time – it’s a great life, I love it.
What first attracted you to the sport?
The horses, the days at the races, the people who always seemed to have so much fun in their daily lives.
What is your favourite racing memory?
In 2010, I lead up the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander – it was beyond all my expectations as a groom, he was so heroic and he’ll always be in my heart.
What to you feel horseracing has done well during the pandemic?
Except the halt during the first lockdown last summer, it’s kept going! It follows the guidelines and is safe, so lots of people have kept their jobs.
What do you enjoy most about working in the industry or building content on the sport?
I love working with the horses and I love going racing – seeing my ‘racing family’ and friends all over the country. I love looking after young horses who go onto become winners.
What made you start creating horseracing content online?
It was an idea that grew from writing columns for a racing enthusiasts’ club newsletter; I loved writing a column about work and I also branched out into articles and interviews. I aim to positively highlight as many people as possible in racing that I can, from all corners of the industry. I thought it might help young people thinking about a career in racing to find out what goes on behind the scenes.
Do you have a favourite horse?
Imperial Commander will always be special. I still own a forever favourite Patman Du Charmil – he’s 19 and has been in my life since a juvenile hurdler.
Cheltenham is special. Market Rasen is where I led up my first winner under Rules in 2001 and I love the canteen at Catterick!
Which race / racecourse around the world would you love to visit?
Friends of mine created the Queen’s Cup Race Day in Mineral Springs, North Carolina. My friend Becky and I visited in 2011 but not actually on the only race day that’s held literally at the bottom of their garden! It’s held in April and looks an amazing day out.