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Richard Johnson Blog - An OBE And Cheltenham


28 February 2019

On Tuesday this week I went to Buckingham Palace to be presented with my OBE by the Queen. It was a privilege to be recognised and to be a part of such an event. 

My wife, my children and I had a lovely day out. Others to receive honours included knighthoods for Bill Beaumont and Alastair Cook and other awards for services to charities and teaching. 

The Queen does not do many of these ceremonies herself anymore, so it was a real honour to see her there in person. It was a great experience for the children to be sat so close to her, and they behaved well during the short ceremony! We then went for a lovely lunch and afternoon tea. It was a really memorable day. 

Other than that it’s been a busy week for travelling. I’ve been up to Ayr, where I rode a winner and two seconds for Gordon Elliott on Monday, and back up to Musselburgh yesterday. I’ve got 4 rides closer to home at Ludlow this afternoon. 

It’s difficult to escape talk of Cheltenham at the moment. My three main chances of the week look to be Native River in the Gold Cup, Lalor in the Arkle and Brewinupastorm in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle. I won’t sit on Native River now until Gold Cup Day, but I’m sure Colin Tizzard will have everything in hand! I’ve been to Kayley Woollacott’s to school Lalor and he seemed very well. I’ll be down at Olly Murphy’s for a schooling session next week.

Samburu Shujaa won the Pertemps Qualifier at Chepstow last Saturday, his second win in succession at Chepstow. All being well he’ll head to the Pertemps Final on the Thursday. I’ll also be schooling at Philip’s next week, so I’ll know more about our plans then. 

This time next week I’ll have more of an idea of my other rides at the Festival too. A lot can change in a week and it’s a case of keeping the horses fit and well, and hoping you get a run. The racing is so competitive that many owners and trainers end up disappointed as their horses don’t rate quite highly enough to get into the race of their choice.

We’re expecting wetter weather for the next week which is a good thing for Cheltenham, it’s better and safer to race on rain softened ground rather than watered ground.

In the fortnight before the Festival I try to concentrate on each day’s racing rather than constantly looking ahead, but it’s difficult! This evening I’m at a preview event at my children’s school, and there will be similar events across the country. There are so many varying opinions on the contenders for each race there’s always a great debate among the panellists and the audience. 

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