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Jonjo O'Neill chasing Cheltenham Festival joy with Taquin Du Seuil

Jonjo O'Neill has picked out Taquin Du Seuil as one of his best prospects for Cheltenham Festival success as he prepares to renew rivalry with Oscar Whisky in the JLT Novices' Chase over 2m 4f.

The seven-year-old French import showed plenty of promise over hurdles last term, winning at Uttoxeter, Sandown and Newbury and finishing a solid second to My Tent Or Yours at Ascot before possibly just having his limitations exposed behind The New One in the Neptune.

Taquin Du Seuil made an instant impression as a novice chaser when hacking up at Ffos Las and then upsetting odds-on favourite Oscar Whisky in a tight finish at Cheltenham, always just holding the upper hand under Tony McCoy.

After just being tapped for toe and paying the price for a few untidy jumps when a soundly-beaten third behind Hinterland in a Grade 1 contest at Sandown over two miles, he stepped back up in trip for a rematch with Oscar Whisky at Prestbury Park, but this time tasted defeat by a narrow margin.

However, a confidence-boosting 17-length romp at Haydock should have put him spot on for the Festival and O'Neill is looking forward to round three of his battle with Nicky Henderson's charge.

"Obviously, there is not much between Oscar Whisky and Taquin Du Seuil," said the local handler. "Oscar would have more pace but Taquin is a good horse and, as long as the ground does not dry out too much, he will run well. He is best on soft ground, though I will run him on good ground. 
 
“He will get a proper gallop in the JLT. I know he likes a good pace in his races and I could not have him in better shape – he is in really good form. I am very happy with my fellow and last time there was not much between him and Oscar at Cheltenham and they were some 15 lengths ahead of the third. 
 
“He jumps well, he travels well and he does everything well. His run at the Festival last year was not his form but he has run well at Cheltenham over fences since so I don’t think it was the course.”

O'Neill rode nine Festival winners as a jockey and took the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Dawn Run in 1986 as the mare became the only horse to win that trophy after having previously captured the Champion Hurdle, while he also partnered Alverton and Sea Pigeon to victory in those races.

As a trainer, he has sent out 22 victors at the Festival, including three triumphs for Albertas Run, one RSA Chase and two Ryanair wins, plus a Gold Cup success with Synchronised just a couple of years ago.

O'Neill has 31 entries this term and added: “I don’t have a real headline horse but, touch wood, the horses are in grand form and you hope that they will perform on the day. I am very happy with Taquin De Seuil – he does excite me. He might not have shown it as much on the track as he does at home but if he gets the opportunity, a good gallop and jumps well, he will make them go.”


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Jonjo O'Neill chasing Cheltenham Festival joy with Taquin Du Seuil

Jonjo O'Neill has picked out Taquin Du Seuil as one of his best prospects for Cheltenham Festival success as he prepares to renew rivalry with Oscar Whisky in the JLT Novices' Chase over 2m 4f.

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