Richard Johnson: OBE is something I'll treasure forever
The champion jockey gives his thoughts on his OBE recognition and looks ahead to another action-packed Saturday.
I was delighted to hear the news that I will be honoured with an OBE in the New Year's Honours list.
It’s an amazing accolade to receive and I am so lucky to earn it by doing a job I love. It’s something I’ll treasure forever.
I have to thank the whole racing community as they have helped me get this award, especially my mum, dad and wife Fiona.
My parents put me on this path and together they have all helped me stay on it. It’s a busy routine and one that takes a lot of time, effort and dedication.
The good days are great and they have always been very supportive and patient. Along with many other people along the way, they have helped me live my dream.
There have been many proud days in my time as a jockey but to win the jockey’s championship three times has been the standout memory as that was always my aim.
To succeed and achieve my goals means so much to me and I will continue to try to add to my collection until the day I have to give it up.
Busy Christmas period
Looking back at the Christmas action and I was delighted with La Bague Au Roi’s performance in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton.
I thought she had a great chance on paper before the race but it looked a really hot contest. She was very, very good and just kept finding more.
It’s always a privilege to ride the best horses in the biggest races and she can hopefully kick on in the new year and go on to bigger and better things.
Thomas Darby ran well to finish third in the novice hurdle but didn’t quite have the legs turning in. I’m sure he will be better over a stiff two miles or a slightly longer trip.
I was also happy enough with Native River finishing third in the King George. They went a bit too quick from the off for him and I felt like I was in top gear the whole way.
We knew it would be a tough ask. Cheltenham in March is likely to be a bit more realistic and I’m sure that will suit him better.
Whether he runs again will be up to his team but I don’t think we would have been far off if there were a couple more furlongs to go. It was a very strong renewal.
The highlight of the Christmas racing had to be Altior who extended his winning run in brilliant style. He’s a class act and makes it look effortless.
He’s easily the best two miler around and I don’t think that winning formula needs to change. He’s just a machine and the one they all have to get to.
Newbury on Saturday
The action continues to come thick and fast over the weekend and my first ride of the day at Newbury on Saturday comes on Twin Star (12:40) for Noel Williams.
He won a couple on the Flat and we will know a lot more about him after what looks a hot race.
I’m A Game Changer (13:50) is very talented and the drying ground is a real plus. As long as the rain doesn’t come and it’s not too testing he should run a big race.
He needs to make sure he settles early but he will have a great chance of hitting the frame if he does.
My third ride of the day comes on Reikers Island (14:25) and he is probably my best chance of a winner. He was really promising first time up this season at Exeter.
He finished third that day and followed it up with a six-length victory at Wincanton at the start of the month. He’s very progressive and there looks to be more to come.
Brewin’Upastorm (15:00) is a horse I really like and he was brilliant last time when winning at Huntingdon.
This is obviously a lot harder, but he’s a very exciting horse and the step up in trip looks ideal for him. He goes there with every chance, although it looks a very warm contest.
My final ride on Saturday is Polydora (15:35) for Tom Lacey. He’s another who comes into the race in winning form and he should have a decent chance of doubling up.
Onefitzall is a horse I know well. He’s very talented on his day and could be a threat.
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