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Richard Johnson blog: Native River, Cheltenham Gold Cup

12 Feb | BY Richard Johnson | MIN READ TIME |
Richard Johnson blog: Native River, Cheltenham Gold Cup

The champion jockey says he's delighted to be back racing after a crazy few days, and gives the latest on Native River's preparations for the Gold Cup.

Equine flu

It’s been a pretty crazy few days since the outbreak of equine flu last Wednesday.

The BHA have had a very difficult situation to contend with. I think they were better to play it safe than risk letting it escalate and becoming a big problem in three or four weeks’ time.

It’s obviously disappointing to miss so many meetings, but hopefully all the precautions are in place and moving forward we can all be reasonably happy that there’s nothing too bad to worry about.

You’re never going to keep everyone happy in a situation like this and I can understand the frustrations of trainers, but things could be worse.

The BHA will have consulted long and hard with their vets and I’m sure everyone is delighted that racing is back on from Wednesday.

The results from Philip Hobbs’ horses have come back fine, but a few of them need to be vaccinated following new regulations that they need to have had a vaccination within the last six months rather than 12.

Vaccination regulations

I assume the BHA have been advised by their team of veterinary experts, who they trust to bring in this change. I’m sure they don’t want to make things more difficult than they already are for trainers.

Obviously if you’ve got a horse that was due to run this weekend and now can’t because it needs a vaccination, you’re going to feel frustrated..

But if they feel this is going to help the long-term health of the horses, then so be it. Ireland have made it a requirement within eight weeks, so it’s not as stringent as that.

Native River to head straight to Cheltenham

The Tizzards have confirmed that Native River will now go straight to Cheltenham and I have absolutely no concerns about that whatsoever.

He’s fit and well, and has ran two fine races already this season. He’s been in great form all year and as long as they’re happy with him, that’s all I care about.

All horses are different. There will be certain trainers that want to get another run into theirs and others who don’t.

We’ve seen today that Sizing John has sadly been ruled out for the season. It is always better to still have a horse to run.

Quiet few days at home

I haven’t been up to a whole lot over the past few days.

We’ve done a few bits and pieces, but we couldn’t really go away because we didn’t know what was going to happen.

If racing had been off for a few more days we might have tried to go skiing, but it’s great that it’s back.

There’s always plenty of stuff going on at home with lots of children and horses to look after. I’m doing my last school pick up on Tuesday before going back to work.

Up to Musselburgh on Wednesday

I’m off to Edinburgh on Wednesday morning to ride Saryshaggan for David O’Meara in the maiden hurdle (15:50).

I was on him when he ran well at Doncaster the other day and I hope he’ll have a decent chance.

It’s a long way to go for one ride, but it’s always best to go for one with a good chance than a few with no chance.

There are small fields up there, which is understandable considering the new six-month rule.

I’ll probably meet up with some of the other jockeys on the motorway and we’ll go in one car together. It makes sense to do that on a long journey if we can.

Later this week

It’s really a case of finding out what can run at the weekend now.

Philip has a few nice horses entered at the weekend. Hopefully we can get back into the routine again and get a few winners back on the board, that’s the most important thing.

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Richard Johnson

Four-time champion jump jockey who is second on the all-time list for most National Hunt winners in the UK.

Richard Johnson

Four-time champion jump jockey who is second on the all-time list for most National Hunt winners in the UK.