Richard Johnson: I'm hoping for one last winner on Wait For Me
The champion jockey picks out his favourite moments in securing a fourth straight title, and assesses his Sandown chances on his final outing of the season.
The season ends at Sandown on Saturday and it’s going to be a great honour to be named champion jockey again.
It’s the most important thing to me. I always set my heart on becoming champion and riding as many winners as I can.
This season I’ve managed to get my second highest total since I started riding, which shows how well things have gone.
I couldn’t do it all on my own, though. I have a massive support team around to help me out.
Owners, trainers, my wife Fiona and the kids, my agent Dave Roberts and my sponsors have all played a huge part in getting me to the position I am in and it will be great to celebrate with them.
I am always asked whether I challenge myself to beat AP McCoy’s huge record of winners but in truth I am just concentrating on every season as it comes.
Highlights of the season
There have been loads of winners I have been proud to ride home but the highlight of my season has to be La Bague Au Roi’s performance at Kempton on Boxing Day.
That was a fantastic performance and the form has been boosted all season long. We’re already looking forward to next season with her.
In a sense that’s what the last few weeks of the season have been about. Taking stock and looking forward to what’s to come next season with a number of nice horses.
Native River is still my star horse. He didn’t quite hit the same heights as he did last season but he still put in some nice performances.
He is one of my favourites and still only nine years old so I’m sure there are more big days to come with him.
Sandown on Saturday
I have four rides on Saturday on what is always a fun day at Sandown.
First up is Scarlet Dragon in the novices’ handicap hurdle (13:50) for trainer Alan King.
Wayne Hutchinson has chosen his stablemate Harambe but Alan wouldn’t be sending him here if he didn’t have a chance.
He is a talented horse and was good on the Flat so I am hopeful of a nice performance in a valuable race.
Rock The Kasbah finished second in this race 12 months ago (15:35) and will hopefully go well again.
He seems in good form at home and has been fine in himself since being brought down in the Grand National at Aintree.
I thought he’d go really well in that race but it just didn’t happen for him. He won’t mind the ground and it would be nice to see him run well here.
Royal Village is a horse I know well as he used to be trained by Philip Hobbs and he runs in the handicap chase (16:40).
He has taken well to fences and conditions won’t be an issue. It looks another competitive race but he has certainly had enough practice and should have a good chance.
My final ride on the card – and in fact of the season – is probably my best chance of a winner this weekend and that’s Wait For Me in the handicap hurdle (17:15).
He won this two years ago and I had quite a hard choice between him and That’s A Given who is also trained by Philip.
That’s A Given is probably slightly more unexposed but the ground and stiff track should be perfect for Wait For Me.
He ran well last time out to finish third at Ayr and I think conditions will play to his strengths here.
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