Four-times champion jockey Richard Johnson is set to make a return to action following his recovery from a broken arm, sustained during a fall at Exeter on 21st January. He was trailing Brian Hughes in the title race by a mere three winners prior to his injury and now finds himself 19 adrift with 111 wins as opposed to 130 for his northern rival. Johnson was always optimistic about his chances of returning in time for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival and as things stand he hasn’t ruled out retaining the championship.
Following a consultation with BHA doctor Jerry Hill earlier this week, Johnson was given the all-clear to make a return to action and he will likely make an appearance at either Musselburgh for Olly Murphy or Ludlow where he is booked to ride Truckin Away for Philip Hobbs on Thursday afternoon.
The champion jockey said on Monday: “I got the all-clear this afternoon, from the BHA doctor Jerry Hill.
“Depending on what runs where, fingers crossed I’ll be back on Thursday.
“The first couple of days will be relatively quiet, to get back into it, and I’m looking forward to being back in the old routine.
“It is nice to have actually got the green light off the people you know you have to – and to hear they are happy I’m ready to get back to it, to resume normal service.
“Ten days or so before Cheltenham is a good time – if I’d only been able to come back the Friday before, it wouldn’t have been long to get into the routine again.”
With regard to the title race, Johnson made clear that he isn’t going to give up even though he is 19 wins behind.
“I’ll just be looking for that first winner back, to start with,” he said.
“Realistically, I know I’m still going to be up against it.
“But there is that chance. So whether you are riding a 50-1 shot or going for the championship, as long as you have that chance, I like to feel I have an opportunity.”
Johnson first became Champion Conditional Jockey at the age of just 18 in 1995/96, however while he has enjoyed plenty of success at the Cheltenham Festival, he has the dubious record for most rides without a winner at the Grand National, the jockey having appeared 21 times in the famous steeplechase with his best-ever finish being 2nd on What’s Up Boys in 2002.
He returned to the Grand National after a three-year break when brought down on Rock The Kasbah in 2019.