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Richard Johnson Blog - The Heatwave & Hacking


29 June 2018

It has been hot work at the racecourses this week but thankfully the horses have coped well with the extreme heat. When we had trouble at Cheltenham with horses overheating earlier in the year, I think the problem was that it turned warm almost overnight and the horses hadn’t acclimatised. Now that we’ve had a prolonged hot spell, and the horses have been training in hot weather every day, they have been fine. It helps that the racecourses have been great in providing plenty of water at the end of each race so we can cool the horses down quickly. We’ve been unsaddling on the track too, where there is generally a breeze, rather than in the hotter winner’s enclosures. 

I’ve had a couple of winners this week, at Worcester on Sunday and Wednesday. It was good to win for a second time on Aardwolf who was a bit unlucky not to win earlier in the year. I’m trying to take advantage of every opportunity to keep up with Harry Skelton who is riding so many winners. The Racing Post reported this week that there has been plenty of money wagered on him being champion this year. I hope I’ll catch him up through the winter. Most of my winners usually come from Philip Hobbs who I’ve been riding for for 17 years, but we’re not in great form this year. Luckily I’ve got plenty of other supporters and my agent Dave Roberts does a great job of getting me outside rides.

It is sometimes a juggling act when you have to pick which horse to ride without offending trainers or owners, and I have a lot of good trainers that I work with whenever I can. These relationships have grown over a lifetime in racing! Warren Greatrex gives me lots of rides, I’ve known him since our days with David Nicholson early in our careers. I started riding for Tim Vaughan when he asked me to ride a horse I had previously won on for Richard Phillips, I won on it again and this led to more rides. My link up with Henry Daly came about when he asked me to ride out at his yard and has grown from there.

Olly Murphy is a rising star of a trainer who I’m also pleased to have links with. He previously worked for Gordon Elliott in Ireland who I’ve ridden for, and his bloodstock agent dad Aiden Murphy is a big provider of horses for the Hobbs yard so there are existing connections there too. Then there are the ex jockeys – for example I rode for Christian Williams yesterday, I‘ve known him for years having ridden against him for so long. 

The ride on Native River came about when they were looking for a rider for him at Aintree as a novice. I’ve not particularly had connections with the Tizzard yard before but his owners Garth and Anne Broom also have horses with Philip Hobbs so they asked for me. Little did I know at the time that he would go on to such great things!

I’ve had a couple of days with no racing this week and I took the opportunity to take Menorah out hacking. He’s been one of the best horses of my career, winning the grade 1 novices chase at Aintree and the Oaksey Chase at Sandown on the last day of the season four times. He’s now 13 and enjoying himself in my field. He hasn’t had a saddle on his back in 6 weeks but he was still an absolute gentleman! I’ll be watching the football tonight. It’s great to see the team in good form and I like the way everyone gets involved and the next generation get inspired to go outside and kick a ball about or have a go at sport. 

I’m going up to Cartmel on Friday, and on Sunday there is a valuable meeting at Uttoxeter where the feature race is the Marston’s Pedigree Summer Cup, one of the more valuable prizes through the summer. It’ll be full steam ahead for the next few weeks before the 8 day gap in jump racing from 7th August, when a lot of us jockeys will be going off on a well earned holiday!

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