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Richard Johnson Blog - Form & The Jump Season Opener


20 July 2018

I took the opportunity to have a couple of days away with my family while there was no jump racing last week. I came back to ride at Ffos Las on Friday and Newton Abbot on Saturday, where it was frustrating to keep hitting the crossbar with a few seconds. Monday was better though, I had a treble at Southwell riding winners for Alastair Ralph, Gordon Elliott and Suzi Best. 

It has been good to pick up some more rides for Gordon Elliott on Wednesday at Uttoxeter, but unfortunately to no luck. I’ll be at Cartmel on Saturday, and probably Stratford on Sunday. Where I go depends on the rides that my agent Dave Roberts can secure for me. He’s been my agent for my whole career, Adrian Maguire and David Nicholson suggested I use him when I was starting out and we’ve never looked back.

Dave has the most fantastic memory for form, and he can reel off any number of trainers telephone numbers who he has to contact to secure the best rides possible for all of his jockeys. Often trainers don’t decide until very late whether or where their horse will run. Dave is very good at keeping all concerned parties informed, and is very diplomatic too! It could be very easy to upset people. He works from home, and it’s pretty frantic at declarations time in the morning, as he juggles jockeys, trainers and horses. 

At this point in the year, the jump season proper is almost in sight. Around the beginning of July the winter jump horses usually come back from their summer holidays and the slow steady process of getting them fit will commence. There was plenty of grass around for them in May and June, but it’s so dry and bare now that I expect they’ll be pleased to be back in the comfort of full training. Typically trainers did at least 6 weeks of walking or trotting to strengthen horses up before beginning faster work, but these days with most trainers having very forgiving all weather gallops they begin cantering fairly quickly. It takes about three months to get a horse race fit, but things can go wrong at any time, and injuries can happen if you rush, so slow and steady is the key.

The jump season opener meeting at Chepstow on 13th and 14th October has long been considered the beginning of the winter jump season, and I'm looking forward to some good rides then. My old mate, Gold Cup winner Native River, appeared in the press releases this week about the news that Magners will be the new sponsors for the Gold Cup. Native River is on track for a crack at a second Gold Cup win and hopefully we'll be celebrating with Magners next March! 

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