Richard Johnson: Winning the title means everything to me

Richard Johnson: Winning the title means everything to me

Richard Johnson described his first jockeys' title as the "realisation of a dream".

For so long in the shadow of Sir Anthony McCoy, Johnson finally claimed the title after a 20th consecutive season with over 100 winners and surpassed the 200 mark for the first time in his career this term.

Johnson took his tally to 235 for the campaign when partnering Menorah to victory in the Grade Two bet365 Oakey Chase.

Johnson said: "This has been a day to remember. It is the culmination of a lot of hard work and patience and the realisation of a dream.

"I'm as surprised as anyone with the way the season has gone. There was a sense at the start of the season that if I won people would say it has been only because AP had retired. While that is true to a degree, the number of winners I have had and the work I put in to achieve it, means it is so satisfying.

"Winning the title means everything to me. It is really what you work towards every day. There have been times when you think, 'Am I ever going to win it?', but I'm glad to say that it has finally come true.

"Philip and Sarah Hobbs have been so supportive throughout and I'm as pleased for them as I am for myself. It has been a team effort from all those in the yard and I could not have done it without their unwavering support and that of the owners, who have been tremendous."

The unassuming farmer's son, now 38, is only the second person to ride over 3,000 jumps winners.

While McCoy's total of 4,358 total winners is unlikely to be surpassed - "I might need the use of a Zimmer frame to get near his total" - Johnson holds the former champion in the utmost respect, and the 20-times champion presented him with the trophy.

The pair are good friends, despite the on-course rivalry, and Johnson said: "AP was great to ride against. He was tough but fair, everything a good sportsman and a great champion should be.

"He was a true champion and it was a tremendous honour that he was here today.

"Yes, there have been a few more opportunities with AP not around and it has been interesting being out in front rather than chasing. I've quite liked that!

"The title has always been my dream and I've waited 20 years for this day to come - so I'm going to enjoy it.

"It is wonderful to win the title and I'm determined to try to defend it again."

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