Johnson reaches first double century

Richard Johnson rode his first winner in April 1994 at Hereford, and was champion conditional jockey the following season. He's steadily built up the number of winners over the last 22 years, but until this afternoon at Warwick, had never managed to clock 200 in a season.

I was lucky enough to grab a word with him after he had piloted Cheat The Cheater home for Claire Dyson, and you could sense the relief as the weight of that goal was lifted from his shoulders. With half a mile to go it looked as if Johnson would have to wait at least until the card's closing bumper, as Cheat the Cheater appeared outpaced, but as the field turned into the home straight, race leader Glendermot idled badly, and almost ground to a halt, allowing Johnson to galvanise his mount and pull clear on the run in.

Johnson said, "Claire Dyson had told me exactly how he'd be: one paced, and in top gear from the first fence. But he's a horse that helps his rider."

Mostly, though, he wanted to acknowledge the support he has had from agent Dave Roberts, and from two trainers in particular. Even before he turned professional, David Nicholson had spotted his potential, and was extremely supportive in his early career.

Johnson has ridden for Philip Hobbs for the past 16 years, and was quick to acknowledge the strength of their relationship. He said, "Philip has been brilliant to work for. He's always been loyal to me, even when I've been out injured, and I certainly couldn't have done this without him."

The milestones are coming thick and fast at the moment, as only last month Johnson rode winner 3,000 on St Saviour at Ludlow, a partnership in action at Kempton tomorrow. And only a miracle can stop him claiming his first jockey's title later in the year.

Add to that the run of big race winners he's had recently, including Smad Place, Reve De Sivola, Bishops Road and Top Gamble and it's easy to understand why Johnson doesn't find the 2,000 miles a week he drives from his home in Herefordshire any kind of a burden.


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