Richard Johnson (left) and Philip Hobbs have enjoyed huge success together (Barry Cronin/PA)Philip Hobbs will do everything in his power to ensure Richard Johnson is crowned champion National Hunt jockey for a fifth time at the end of the season.

Having been forced to play second fiddle to 20-times champion Sir Anthony McCoy on no less than 16 occasions, Johnson finally claimed the crown at the end of the 2015-16 campaign, with McCoy having retired at the end of the previous season.

Johnson has won three further championships, but appears to have a genuine fight on his hands this term, with northern-based rider Brian Hughes hot on his tail. Johnson led Hughes by two – 109 winners to 107 – at the close of play on Tuesday.

Hobbs said: “We hope Richard will win it again, but it will be a daily thing.

Brian Hughes is a real threat to Richard Johnson in the jockeys' title race this season
Brian Hughes is a real threat to Richard Johnson in the jockeys’ title race this season (David Davies/PA)

“When Richard Dunwoody retired, we just used the best available. I was at Punchestown talking to David Nicholson and it started from there – at that stage he (Johnson) hadn’t even ridden for us.

“Richard is obviously a very good rider, but for somebody to be top-end successful, just being a good rider is not good enough. He is massively good with owners, particularly when one has run badly, which is the important time.

“Rather than run away like a lot want to, Richard will spend longer with the owners, which is very important.

“He is completely dedicated and there is no side to him. I’m sure people will help him out if the title race was very close during the last few weeks.”