2021 Cheltenham Festival tips – Richard Johnston’s Festival winning chances
Richard Johnson Cheltenham Festival rides
Three-time Champion Jockey Richard Johnson OBE has plenty of Cheltenham Festival success to his name and has completed the ‘Grand Slam’ of riding the winner of each of the four championship races through his career. Further success at the ‘greatest show on turf’ could await Johnson this year and we pick out five of the likely Richard Johnson Cheltenham Festival rides who should give the three-time champ a good spin and might add further Festival success to the rider’s CV.
Top jockey Richard Johnson OBE was perhaps unfortunate to spend a large portion of his riding career with AP McCoy OBE in opposition; but while the latter has retired the English-born rider has continued to ply his trade over the sticks with plenty of success and the three-time Champion Jockey looks set for another strong Cheltenham Festival with a number of exciting rides to look forward to.
With 23 Cheltenham Festival winners to his name including riding the winner in each of the four championship races to achieve the ‘Grand Slam’ the English rider could enjoy further success this year where he’s likely to have another strong book of rides over the course of the four days.
We’ve picked out five of the best Richard Johnson Cheltenham Festival rides that over the course of the four days could deliver a winner for the three-time champ.
2021 CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL TIPS – RICHARD JOHNSTON FESTIVAL WINNING CHANCES
Ultima Handicap Chase
Johnson could get the leg up again on JERRYSBACK who has been hard to win with in recent times but the Jeremy gelding remains one to be interested in.
His last win came back in December 2018 after which he placed in a trio of Graded novice contests over fences including finishing third to Le Breuil in the 2019 National Hunt Chase.
This Cheltenham Festival day one handicap is always a hard race to work out but the nine-year old could exploit this mark before too much longer having run well for third on his reappearance behind Dashel Drasher at Ascot in January and that form has certainly worked out. His subsequent run back there latest can be forgiven as he made a bad mistake and lost a shoe when just getting into the race.
A contest of this nature will of course be very competitive but he’s certainly no back number and could make his presence felt.
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
ADRIMEL showed himself to a tough performer when toughing out a competitive renewal of the recent Leamington Hurdle at Warwick and Tom Lacey’s charge might yet have more to offer.
The Tirwanako gelding extended his unbeaten record over hurdles to three with that success having earlier scored impressive wins at Sandown and Haydock; he responded well to the application of cheekpieces for his last win where be beat Mint Condition by a neck and can continue to improve.
He’s a former point-to-point winner and on the back of a couple of bumper wins last term he took in the Champion Bumper on day two of the Cheltenham Festival although he cut little ice on that occasion. It did however give him experience of this place which can often be important in races of this nature.
Marsh Novices’ Chase
Johnson could get day three of the Cheltenham Festival off to the best possible start by steering SPORTING JOHN to victory in the opening Marsh Novices’ Chase.
Philip Hobbs’ Getaway gelding was unbeaten last term prior to finishing seventh to Envoi Allen in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and his subsequent chase debut back from a break at Exeter in November was a shade underwhelming when beaten thirty lengths and more by Fiddlerontheroof.
Of course that run might have been needed, but he looked an unlikely winner of the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown in February, detaching himself from the field and giving up plenty of ground before rallying well to storm up the hill at the Esher track and collar the bold-jumping Shan Blue.
All his wins have come in testing ground so there’d be a worry about the conditions come race-time if the ground dries out but he’s a big player nonetheless for those looking for some Cheltenham free bet value to use taking on the Irish banker.
Last year’s Albert Bartlett fourth THYME HILL has stepped up his game this season to emerge as one of the leading lights in the staying division and Philip Hobbs’ charge enters the Stayers’ Hurdle cauldron with strong claims.
The Kayf Tara gelding had finished third to Envoi Allen in the Champion Bumper prior to tackling hurdles and he won his first three starts over timber which included a pair of Grade Two contests at Chepstow and Cheltenham before taking the Grade One Challow Hurdle so he was clearly a stayer of huge potential and he did his prospects no harm in the Albert Bartlett despite being unlucky in running.
The step up to three miles has proven no issue, beating Paisley Park in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and looking home in front for all money before being chinned by the same rival in the Long Walk Hurdle with Emma Lavelle’s former champion finishing strongly to get up in the shadows of the post.
He’s likely to have further improvement to come after just three starts at this distance and he’s proven he can win on contrasting ground from good to heavy; he’s a big player come the day three feature at the Festival where’s he’s arguably Johnson’s best chance of riding a winner.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
Johnson is sure to renew his Cheltenham Gold Cup partnership with Colin Tizzard’s NATIVE RIVER and the pair combined to take the Cheltenham Festival day four feature in 2018, beating Might Bite in a thrilling slog to the line in atrocious conditions.
That win was his second attempt at the Gold Cup having finished a close third the year before and he ran well in defeat in defence of his crown, finishing fourth to Al Boum Photo.
He’s now a veteran at eleven years old, but despite his advancing years his ability hasn’t diminished any and he’s won three of four starts since that fourth in last season’s feature with his sole defeat coming in a messy renewal of the Many Clouds Chase.
The Indian River gelding latterly demolished Bristol De Mai by nine lengths in the rearranged Cotswold Chase and if conditions turn up testing then he has be given plenty of respect despite his age given the last double-digit aged winner of the Gold Cup was Cool Dawn in 1998.