O'Neill eyes Gold Cup option for star novice More Of That
Jonjo O'Neill has intensified speculation surrounding the possibility of More Of That being aimed at the Gold Cup by declaring that "it would be silly not to make an entry" for the star novice in the March showpiece.
JP McManus's brilliant seven-year-old, which conquered Annie Power in a famous World Hurdle encounter the season before last, on Friday posted another deeply professional Cheltenham performance to make it two wins from as many outings over fences.
While the three-runner affair was more akin to a schooling session than a race for More Of That (right), it seemed to confirm the impression that the bleeding and breathing problems that saw him run just once - poorly - last term are now behind him.
Afterwards, perhaps aware of McManus's lack of viable alternatives, O'Neill raised the possibility of More Of That striving to emulate Coneygree, which last year became the first novice since Captain Christy in 1974 to claim the sport's biggest prize.
Yesterday, the Co Cork-born legend added fuel to the fire. "It is a long way off and it's a pretty good Gold Cup, but to me it would be silly not to make an entry in it," O'Neill said of a race for which exciting Irish contenders Vautour, Don Poli, Don Cossack and Djakadam are to the fore in the betting.
"He came out of the race fine and is in good form. We've not discussed where we are going next; I think he could do with another run as he had a fairly solo run round. It would be nice to get another race into him for the experience. I was worried when we operated on him and we have operated on plenty and it hasn't worked.
"We knew he was a good horse and so far it's working."
Comparing him to his 2012 Gold Cup hero Synchronised, O'Neill added: "He is a different horse altogether as this fellow has pace and he can inject speed. The trip would be a question mark, but he would be one that you could be confident in as he is so relaxed you can just switch him off."
O'Neill added that McManus's Upswing, which is vying for Welsh National favouritism, is on schedule for a tilt at the gruelling Chepstow marathon on December 27.
He also confirmed that the Grand National fifth Shutthefrontdoor - third on its return over flights at Aintree - is being trained for another tilt at the big race.
"The main aim will be the Grand National," O'Neill stressed. "I was a bit disappointed to be honest last year, but he came home sore. He might have another run over hurdles, but we will see how he is when he's right."
Meanwhile, Mark Bradstock expressed himself happy after Coneygree participated in a vital schooling session yesterday morning, though he stressed that he would not rush into deciding whether or not his stable star would run anywhere over Christmas.