Having been out of action since suffering a broken arm in a fall at Exeter on January 21, the four-times champion jockey was given the green light to make his comeback earlier this week – and travelled to Scotland for two mounts for trainer Olly Murphy.
Made For You was the 7-4 favourite for the Meetings That Matter On Racing TV Handicap Hurdle, but required all of Johnson’s trademark strength in the saddle on the run-in to get up and beat Vino’s Choice by a neck in the dying strides.
Johnson trailed title rival Brian Hughes by just three winners at the time of his injury, but was 20 adrift prior to Thursday’s card, with Hughes leading by 131 winners to 111.
Johnson told Racingtv.com: “It’s great to be back and riding a winner on my first ride feels great.
“I’d no trouble or pain from my arm all the way through the race but to be honest I was blowing more than the horse at the end!"
Johnson and Murphy combined successfully for a second time with Dubai Guest, who justified even-money favouritism in the concluding Racing Post Go North Weekend 20-22 March Standard Open NH Flat Race.
Johnson admitted earlier this week that he was “up against it” in this year’s title race, but is not giving up by any means. He said:
“When I was lying on the ground at Exeter knowing I’d probably broken my arm I thought the championship had gone. But the weather has been on my side and Brian hasn’t had as many opportunities as he might otherwise have had.
“People are saying the gap is 'only 20 winners’ but you try riding that many, as it isn’t easy!”
“After what happened last month, I’m just delighted to be back racing.
“Hopefully we can keep at it and we’ll see where it takes us.”
Essential for the Cheltenham Festival - get your FREE Racing TV Flat Cap! Click here for more details.
Select any odd to add a bet