Richard Johnson has plenty of winners to pick from – quite literally thousands. Here we select six of his most memorable mounts during a long and distinguished riding career.
A Cheltenham cross-country specialist, Balthazar King was a dual Festival winner over the banks course for Johnson – showing any amount of heart as he prevailed by narrow margins on both occasions. He has the distinction of being the only British-trained winner of the Glenfarclas Chase and also proved handy enough at Aintree, giving Johnson a Grand National second when beaten five lengths by Pineau De Re in 2014.
A horse more famed for his off-course owner drama, Flagship Uberalles enjoyed his crowning Cheltenham moment when with the Philip Hobbs-Johnson team, winning the 2002 Queen Mother Champion Chase. Having cantered home in a rescheduled Tingle Creek at Cheltenham earlier in the season, Flagship Uberalles demonstrated his natural brilliance as he came home a comfortable three-length victor.
Looks Like Trouble
Trained by his future father-in-law Noel Chance, Looks Like Trouble really fired Johnson into the big time with his 2000 Cheltenham Gold Cup win. A mere 22-year-old, Johnson replaced Norman Williamson aboard Looks Like Trouble – and the duo outstayed the mighty Florida Pearl up the famous hill to bag the biggest prize of all by five lengths. Looks Like Trouble still resides with the Johnson family at the age of 29.
Another who retired to Johnson’s Herefordshire farm, Menorah enjoyed his moment in the Festival spotlight when winning the 2010 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. A Grade One scorer over fences at Aintree as a novice, Menorah was a fantastically tough campaigner, running 43 times in total, with all but a handful of outings in at least Listed company. Johnson was almost ever present in the saddle, riding 39 times – most fittingly steering him to a glorious farewell in the 2017 Oaksey Chase at Sandown as a 12-year-old.
Johnson admitted he did not really appreciate his first Gold Cup win, but a second in 2018 aboard Colin Tizzard’s gutsy stayer Native River certainly hit home. Soft ground at Cheltenham ensured it was a real tes, and Johnson seized the initiative aboard a proven stayer to execute a perfectly-judged front-running ride. Briefly headed by Might Bite two fences from home, Native River responded to Johnson’s driving to eventually pull four-and-a-half lengths clear.
From County Hurdle winner in 2002, Rooster Booster graduated to the big time when winning the Champion Hurdle the following year. Another on whom Johnson rarely missed the ride, he had to show plenty of restraint as Rooster Booster tanked through the Festival feature before unleashing his finishing burst at the last. An 11-length winner that day, Rooster Booster struggled to match that performance again – but he was certainly one of the most popular horses in training before his untimely death on the gallops in 2005.