2020 Cheltenham Festival tips – Richard Johnson’s rides

Jockey Richard Johnson celebrates with the trophy after winning the Gold Cup.

We take a look at Richard Johnson’s rides and best chances of winning at the upcoming 2020 Cheltenham Festival, which starts on Tuesday 10th March.

Richard Johnson is the reigning and defending two-time Champion Jockey in Britain. “Dickie” is no stranger to the winners’ enclosure at the Cheltenham Festival either. In-fact, Johnson is one of just a handful of jockeys to have won all four of the Championship races at the Cheltenham Festival, with his most recent big-race success coming onboard Native River in the Gold Cup two years ago.

Johnson’s title race with Brian Hughes may be all-but over, after Dickie suffered a broken arm in January. Johnson should be fit in time for Cheltenham, though, and he looks set to land a couple of plum rides. Let’s take a look at Richard Johnson’s rides at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.

Richard Johnson’s Rides at the Cheltenham Festival

NATIVE RIVER

The former Gold Cup winner claimed his first victory since that memorable win earlier this season, romping to victory in the Many Clouds Chase. Colin Tizzard’s ten-year-old will take in the Denman Chase en-route to Cheltenham, and Johnson will be itching to get back in the saddle of one of his favourite horses. Native River (12/1 Paddy Power) shouldn’t be overlooked on his third outing in the Gold Cup. As each-way Cheltenham Festival tips go, he’s one of the best!

LALOR

Kayley Woollacott’s former Grade One winners looked to have fallen out of love with the game. Yet, a surprise step-up in trip has seen the old Lalor (40/1 Unibet) re-emerge. Woollacott’s star has been narrowly beaten in two big handicaps at Cheltenham, the second under a welter burden of 11-11. While the Brown Advisory Plate remains an option, connections may favour an ambitious tilt at the Ryanair. I’m sure Johnson would prefer to ride Lalor into that Grade One on day three.

THYME HILL

Philip Hobbs’ charge has been the best novice hurdler on British soil this season, and he’s sure to feature amongst many expert’s Cheltenham Festival tips. Johnson has ridden Thyme Hill (5/1 Unibet) to victories in the Persian War, the Hyde Novices’ Hurdle and the Challow Hurdle at Newbury. The odds suggest a run over three miles in the Albert Bartlett is in the offing. A horse of Thyme Hill’s class would be more suited to the Ballymore, though, and a clash with Envoi Allen would be a mouth-watering prospect.

STONEY MOUNTAIN

Richard Johnson was riding at Ascot the day Stoney Mountain (20/1 Ladbrokes) powered home to win the Grade Three Handicap Hurdle at Haydock. After an ill-fated chasing debut at Cheltenham, Stoney Mountain booked his place in the Pertemps Final with a fifth-place finish at Warwick. Johnson will be confident that Henry Daly’s powerful seven-year-old could run beyond his current odds.

BREWIN’UPASTORM

The highest-placed British entrant in an Arkle market dominated by Irish novices. Brewin’upastorm (10/1 Unibet) won both of his starts over fences earlier in the season, and the form of those races has worked out extremely well. He doesn’t feature as one of my Arkle tips. Yet, Johnson’s mount will enter the Arkle fresh and a good round of jumping could see Olly Murphy’s charge go close.