Johnson has champion ambitions again next season

Hughes ‘deserved champion’ for 2019/20 campaign.

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Richard Johnson will set his sights on regaining his champion jockey crown once jumps racing is able to resume.

Like everyone in the sport, the 42-year-old is without racing action due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the British Horseracing Authority announced last week that jumping would not be back on the agenda until July 1, with efforts concentrated on planning for a restart on the Flat.

But Johnson will be ready to go when needed – determined to put behind him a season that was first derailed when suffering a broken arm in a fall at Exeter in January.

He had been in an engaging battle with Brian Hughes for the title at that stage, and although he managed to return towards the end of February and was immediately back in the winner’s enclosure, to give some hope he might pull off an astounding comeback, he was 19 adrift when racing came to a halt.

Johnson said: “Things haven’t quite gone smoothly this year, but I’ve been very fortunate actually for a long time that I haven’t had many bad runs. The second half of the season didn’t go quite as we’d hoped, but for everyone now it’s been a very poor year.

“It’s one of those things, we’re looking forward to getting going at some point and fingers crossed I’ll be doing everything to try to regain the championship and go from there, but it’s just one of those things, we’ve got to get through the next few months hopefully and get going again.

“I’ve got lots to look forward to with all my different yards next season, with lots of horses coming through and also the nice ones we’ve already got – the likes of Thyme Hill and Brewin’upastorm.

“I’m in a very fortunate position and hopefully we can look forward to next season and 2021 in a bit more positive light.

“I’m just looking forward to getting past all this and looking forward to the new season, but the most important thing at the moment is obviously the health of the nation and the world. We all understand that, it’s a hard time for everyone in the world.

“We’re all in the same boat and we’ve just got to try to look forward and get through it as best we can.”

Johnson has nothing but praise for Hughes and just wishes he could have experienced the traditional crowning of champions on the final day of the season at Sandown.

He said: “Brian is a deserved champion this year – he deserves all the accolades. I just think for him personally the day at Sandown is very special.

“I’ve been lucky to have enjoyed that the last four years and for him and his family, it’s sad that he doesn’t get to do that.

“I’m sure there will be a presentation at some point in the future, but that day at Sandown is a special day. It’s a shame he won’t be able to do that, but at the same time it won’t take from being champion jockey either.”

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