It won’t be long now before we’re trying to find the winners of the first Classics of the Flat season, the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket.
But there is still one last hurrah of the National Hunt campaign to celebrate, courtesy of the bet365 Jump Finale at Sandown Park on Saturday.
One of the highlights of the day will be the crowning of Richard Johnson as Stobart champion jockey for the fourth consecutive year after another prolific season.
To celebrate his latest title, Great British Racing, the marketing and promotional arm of the sport, has teamed up with legendary sports commentator Eddie Butler in a video homage to Johnson’s tenacity, resilience and talent that have seen him win back-to-back titles since 2015.
On 16 occasions before then, Johnson finished runner-up to AP McCoy before eventually claiming his first title, and the video also features other British sporting greats who have likewise bounced back from agonising disappointment to claim the ultimate prizes in their respective sports. They include:
ANDY MURRAY, who suffered losses in his opening four Grand Slam finals before finally winning his first title at the 2012 US Open against Novak Djokovic, ending Britain’s 76-year wait for a male Grand Slam singles champion.
KELLY HOLMES, the 1500m & 800m runner, who suffered defeat in her first attempts at an Olympic gold in 1996 and 2000 before winning both events in 2004.
AND GEORGE GROVES, the boxer who was defeated in his first three world-title fights, including a devastating knockout by Carl Froch, before finally achieving his dream by becoming world champion when beating Fedor Chudinov in 2017.
The big showpiece races might be missing from his 2018/19 CV, but Johnson has ridden a commanding total of 197 winners from 965 rides during the season, which surpasses his totals for the previous two campaigns. At the time of writing, he was 20 clear of second-placed Harry Skelton and 51 ahead of third-placed Brian Hughes.
In the run-up to Sandown on Saturday, Johnson said: “It’s an amazing feeling to know that I will be getting my hands back on that trophy. Believe me, you do not get bored of that feeling and to do it for four years in a row is something I am immensely proud of.
“It’s always a long hard season, but there have been some fantastic battles across the year and so many talented jockeys that I am up against day in day out, so it’s brilliant to come out on top again.
“The cherry on the cake would be to hit the 200 winners’ mark on Saturday. That would be an unbelievable moment and the perfect ending to what has been another tremendous season for me.”
Among his 197 victories this term, Johnson scooped the prestigious Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on La Bague Au Roi at Kempton on Boxing Day. Other stand-out moments in the season included two improbable five-timers at Perth, firstly on August 18 and then again on September 27, making it Johnson’s most successful track this season with a total of 16 wins.
In October, Johnson secured a further three incredible hat-tricks on the bounce at Exeter, Fontwell and Ludlow.
The 41-year-old enjoyed another successful partnership with trainer, Phillip Hobbs, securing 52 wins together, and earned more than £2 million in prize money this year.
THIS article was kindly supplied by Great British Racing.