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Chepstow Ambassador Richard Johnson Has A Big Weekend Ahead


06 December 2019

I’m really looking forward to riding Native River in Saturday’s Grade Two, Many Clouds Chase at Aintree. He’s given me two of the biggest days in my career with his victories in the Coral Welsh Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

He gets into Saturday’s race without a penalty because he didn’t win a race last season, when he put in some creditable performances but failed to get his head in front. It’s hard to know why that was the case, it’s a possibility his Gold Cup win took more out of him than anyone realised at the time but you can never be 100% sure. 

He had a racecourse gallop at Newbury last weekend too so he’s ready to go. Providing everything goes ok on Saturday, the plan is still for him to take his chance in this year’s Coral Welsh Grand National. Clearly it won’t be easy shouldering top weight but he’s got the weight for a reason and the course suits him well, compared to Kempton where he came third in the King George last Christmas.

It’s a big weekend for me because La Bague Au Roi runs in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon on Sunday for trainer Warren Greatrex. She was found to be in season when she was pulled up in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby last month and I’m hoping for a better showing this time. If all goes to plan, she has an entry in the King George on Boxing Day and that could be the next stop although this year’s renewal looks very competitive with Cyrname, Lostintranslation and Clan des Obeaux currently heading the betting. And of course we still don’t know whether Altior will take his chance.

I’m now on 89 winners for the season which is great. I would love to have a few more on the board but that’s always the case! It was brilliant to see young jockey Ben Jones win the Rising Star category at the Welsh Horse Racing Awards last week and two days later win the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury. He’s very grounded and sensible and is having an incredible run at the moment and being based with Philip Hobbs is in very experienced hands to develop his talents even further. It was similar for me when I was a conditional rider, I had the support of David ‘The Duke’ Nicholson who played a huge part in giving me a successful start to my career. I remember riding in point to points with Ben’s Dad, Dai Jones, who is now Clerk of the Course at Ffos Las so I have known the family for many years. Good luck to him. 

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