BY ANDREW ATKINSON
Richard Johnson who returned back in the saddle this week after sustaining a broken arm in January is tipped each-way on board P. J. Hobbs trained Gala Ball (3.15) in the William Hill Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) at Newbury on Saturday.
“I feel that my fitness is not too bad – it’s all about ‘match fitness’,” said champion NH jumps jockey Johnson, who faces an uphill battle with Brian Hughes to retain his title after being sidelined.
Johnson, sidelined for 37 days, up on ten year old Gala Ball (12-1) under 11st 6lb, in the 2m 3f William Hill Gold Cup, said: “My arm feels good – everything has gone to plan.”
Gala Ball, fourth of eight at Warwick on February 8, under 11st 12lb, plugged on behind winner Clondaw Castle (7-1), in the line up on Saturday where the going at Newbury is soft.
Gala Ball, who won at Wincanton in January, over 2m 4f in a class 2 race, beating Le Rocher and As De Me in the process, finished second in the 2019 William Hill Gold Cup behind San Benedeto (7-1), who goes to post in the 13 runners’ field.
Benny’s King (8-1) trained by Dan Skelton and ridden by Harry Skelton is also selected each-way, the 9 year old carrying 11st 8lb, to bag the £28,475 winning purse.
Benny’s King, second at Ascot on January 18, on heavy going over 2m 5f, under 11st 4lb, lead, then blundered, going down a neck, when beaten by Domaine De L’Isle.
Benny’s King won at Newbury in November, over 2 miles 6 furlongs in a class 2 race, under 11st 1lb.
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