Racing: Johnson holds on for victory

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The Independent Online
RACEGOERS WOULD have been denied the performance of the day had Richard Johnson and his mount, Windross, not survived a terrible blunder in the novices' chase at Uttoxeter yesterday. A misunderstanding between jockey and horse almost resulted in disaster at the sixth fence from home, but Johnson sat tight and Windross gave him no further cause for concern in going on to beat Garolsa by 12 lengths.

"Richard went long and the horse changed his mind," Alan King, the trainer, said. "Richard did well to stay aboard but I would have blamed him and not the horse if he hadn't."

This was a deserved victory for Windross, who had come up against the useful Fadalko and Gloria Victis in his last two races. His task was made easier this time when Storm Of Gold fell at the second and brought down Party Leader.

With Royal Toast an overnight defector, only two runners contested the St Modwen Handicap Chase. The race provided a minor boost for Paul Nicholls as he prepares to mount a two-pronged challenge on the King George VI Chase with See More Business and Double Silk. His runner, Torn Silk, survived two errors before going on to defeat the 11yo Arctic Kinsman by a distance.

The testing conditions took their toll in the opening novices' handicap chase with only four out of 15 completing the course. At the end of the slog, four-times Irish point-to-point winner Andy's Birthday was nine lengths clear of Welburn Boy.

n Chris Maude was banned for two days (29-30 December) for using his whip when out of contention on Tenor Bell in the seller at Uttoxeter.

n The condition of the jockey Tim Sprake, who suffered head injuries in a car accident on Monday, remains critical but stable. He is in intensive care at the North Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke.

n Brian Storey, 37, who broke his left leg in a fall at Hexham six weeks ago, does not expect to return to action until March. He said: "I went to see my surgeon, Hugh Barber, yesterday and he said that I will have to be on crutches for another six weeks. I will probably be out another six weeks after that. I have no thoughts of retiring."