Richard Johnson nearing racing return

Champion British jumps jockey Richard Johnson expects to be back riding soon after an injury which has almost certainly cost him another title.

Johnson has been on the sidelines since breaking his arm in a fall at Exeter on January 21.

He underwent surgery on the injury and has been riding his retired racehorse, Menorah, at home ahead of returning to gallops duties.

The four-time champion expects to be fully fit for next month’s Cheltenham Festival, although he suffered a blow earlier this week when his Gold Cup hope Native River was ruled out.

Johnson has been active on Twitter in his role as an ambassador for Chepstow.

“It’s been great to be back on a horse this week – I rode Menorah at home quite a few times,” he said.

“I’ll be back riding out at the yards this week coming, so I’m hoping my return is fairly imminent.

“There’s lots to look forward to – obviously the Cheltenham Festival mainly. It’s massively disappointing Native River picked up an injury and misses the rest of the season, but fingers crossed he will back for next year.

“There’s lots more to look forward to and hopefully back next week.”

Before his enforced absence, Johnson had been involved in a tight tussle with Brian Hughes in defence of the championship.

Johnson was on 111 winners before his spill, while Hughes has gone on to reach 130.