Richard Johnson was yet again thwarted by Tony McCoy at Doncaster yesterday after coming within inches of landing the first winner of his comeback. It was the champion jockey who stole the day with a 49-1 treble to take him on to 216 winners for the season – only 53 behind Sir Gordon Richards's record of 269 with three months of the campaign to go.
But Johnson, having only his second ride since returning from three months out with a broken leg, looked poised to strike as 5-6 favourite Dark'n Sharp closed on the front-running Hit And Run in the novices' chase. Johnson conjured a huge effort from his mount to draw alongside and the two old rivals fought all the way to the line.
But the camera showed that McCoy, who has beaten Johnson into second in the jockeys' championship in each of the last four seasons, had come out on top again, with Hit And Run getting the verdict by a head. "He's still very hard to beat but I will keep trying," Johnson said.
McCoy had initiated his treble on Shemdani and was seen at his strongest on Gun'n Roses II in the handicap chase.
Arctic Owl was taken out of the betting on the Champion Hurdle after a damp squib of a jumping debut in the closing novices' hurdle. The classy Flat performer had been a 16-1 shot for Cheltenham with Ladbrokes, who removed the gelding from their list after he trailed in a remote fourth.Reuse content