Richard Johnson hits front in title race with double at Newton Abbot

Mon 1 Oct 2018

Champion jockey Richard Johnson has nosed ahead of new rival Harry Skelton for the first time this season after riding a double at Newton Abbot.

Johnson, who rode the 3,500th jumps winner of his career at Warwick last week, has trailed Skelton while the latter set the pace through the summer – largely on runners trained by his brother, Dan.

But the champion, who has won the last three titles following the retirement of his fellow all-time great and 20-time table-topper Sir Anthony McCoy, leads the field again with 86 winners so far after his two successes on Monday.

On Demand prevailed for him in a match for the Racing Partnership TRP Novices’ Chase, and then 15-8 favourite Motueka struck in the Bryan And Ilva Westcott Memorial Novices’ Hurdle half an hour later.

It was a notable day too at the Devon track, for different reasons, for another popular jockey – Bryony Frost, who was returning to the saddle for the first time after suffering a serious injury at the same venue three months ago.

Frost, who had a breakthrough campaign last season, was left with a fractured sternum and an aneurysm in her pancreatic artery in a fall in early July.

There was not quite to be a comeback winner.

The 23-year-old first had to pull up a tiring Atlantic Grey, trained by her father, Jimmy, in the penultimate race on the card and then was narrowly denied in the last on favourite Third Estate – finishing a three-quarters-of-a-length second to Scorpion Star.

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