By Andrew Atkinson
IN-the-wars champion jump jockey Richard Johnson rides Thyme Hill (2.50) tipped in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle Grade 1 on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival on Friday.
“It wasn’t the start to the Festival I wanted,” rued Johnson, stood down with a hip problem, after a fall on Brewin’upastorm on day 1 of the Festival in the Arkle Chase.
Johnson, who returned to the saddle last month, having suffered a broken arm at Exeter, having had his arm plated following a fall, spent part of his rehab in Barbados.
“Sunshine is supposed to speed recovery. I did plenty of swimming and loads of exercise while in Barbados,” said four-times champion NH jockey Johnson.
Johnson’s injury thwarted his bid to retain the jockey’s title, in a head-to- head with Brian Hughes.
“The main thing for me was to get back in the saddle – riding winners – before Cheltenham,” said Johnson.
Johnson, up on Thyme Hill, trained by Philip Hobbs, is selected in the Albert Bartlett, having passed a medical on Wednesday to return to the saddle following his woes on day 1.
Ramses De Teillee (10-1) trained by David Pipe and The Cashel Man (25-1) trained by Nicky Henderson are worthy of each-way support in the Albert Bartlett.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak leading up to the Cheltenham Festival, Britain was hit with a deluge of floods, that lead to the abandonment of meetings due to waterlogged courses.
“When we came back from Barbados we couldn’t get back on the farm – because of floodwater,” said Johnson.
The going is soft, good to soft in places on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival, where the JCB Triumph Hurdle G1 (1.30) over 2 miles gets racing underway.
Paul Nicholls trained Solo (11-4) is tipped to win, with each-way selection A Wave of The Sea (12-1) trained by Joseph O’Brien and ridden by in-form jockey Barry Geraghty.
Adjali (2.10) trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Daryl Jacob (8-1) is tipped each-way in the Randox health County Handicap Hurdle G3 C1 over 2m.
Buildmeupbuttercup (14-1) trained by Willie Mullins and Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Stolen Silver (12-1) are worthy of each-way support.
The Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase G1 (3.30) over 3m 2f sees Gordon Elliott trained Delta Work (5-1) ridden by Mr P. Walsh, and Paul Nicholls trained Clan Des Obeaux (7-1) with Harry Cobden up, tipped each-way.
The St James’s Palace Chase (4.10) over 3m 2f sees 24 runners go to post. Don Polli (14-1), Alcala (12-1) and Minella Rocco, are each-way selections.
The Johnny Henderson Challenge Cup (4.50) over 2m sees 22 runners going to post. Eclair De Beaufeu (8-1), Two Taffs (20-1) and Lisp (6-1) are tipped each-way.
The Martin Pipe Conditional Handicap Hurdle (5.30) over 2m 4f is the finale of the Festival. Assemble (16-1), Flash The Steel (12-1) and Pileon (13-2) are selected each-way.
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