Richard Johnson Blog - A Grade 1 winner and some family time

Racing
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08 February 2019

La Bague Au Roi was brilliant at Leopardstown last weekend in winning the grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase. She’s a dream to ride. Horses like her and Native River make it easy for the jockey, she’s classy and professional and she always tries, so she’s everything you’d want in a horse - a horse of a lifetime for her loyal owners.

She seems to still be improving too. She was a good hurdler, but chase fences have bought out the best in her and she’s still maturing physically and mentally. She jumped really well again.

That’s now 4 races and 4 wins in fairly quick succession this season, including a grade 2 and 2 grade 1s. She probably won’t go to Cheltenham, we think a flatter track suits her better, so she’ll have a bit of a breather now before going to Aintree. She’ll be kept in action but will probably have a few quieter weeks, not working under pressure, so she’s fresh and well at Aintree.

This year has been great, and there’s a possibility she can step up again next year and run in some of the top races like perhaps a King George so she’s worth looking after!

This weekend if racing goes ahead I’m looking forward to riding Native River at Newbury. The King George winner Clan Des Obeaux is also in the race, but I think this track will suit Native River better than Kempton did, so hopefully we can give Clan Des Obeaux more of a race. Colin Tizzard is very happy with him.

We missed several days of racing last week with the cold spell. At such a busy time of the season we don’t usually get days off unless we’re injured! That would be frustrating, but when you know that everyone else is in the same position and not riding any winners either, you can enjoy the break and I made the most of a few days off.

I don’t usually get much time to do family things so it was nice to be able to do the school run and go to my children’s assembly. There’s often not much daylight time to spend with the horses we’ve got at home either. This break was well timed for me, and I enjoyed going off to Overbury Stud with a couple of my mares who are due to visit the stallions Kayf Tara and Jack Hobbs.

Mighty Man was a very good hurdler that I rode for Henry Daly, and I have bought his full sister. She will visit the top jump sire Kayf Tara.  Kayf Willow is a mare I bred and rode for Philip and Sarah Hobbs, she’s named after my oldest daughter. She visits the Irish Derby winner Jack Hobbs.

I really enjoy the breeding operation, and this is something I hope to do more of when I’m no longer riding. Breeding is a long term investment, particularly breeding jumpers which might not make it to the track until they’re 4 or 5. I love watching the youngsters grow, and then seeing them make it to the track.

The best I’ve bred so far is probably Kayf Adventure. He’s won a bumper, a hurdle and a couple of chases but unfortunately fell at Sandown on Saturday. Others have gone into training with Ben Pauling and Tom Symonds. The long term dream would be to breed another La Bague Au Roi!

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