Ashforth’s Angles: Johnson dodges ride on anti-hero Bridge
Richard Johnson: not doing the steering aboard The Last Bridge
PICTURE: Getty Images Johnson leaves Moore to contend with Last Bridge
By David Ashforth 5:50PM 21 MAR 2017
HAS Richard Johnson got fat? I only ask because he seems to have wheedled his way out of riding The Last Bridge at Warwick (4.50). I'm sure he used to be able to ride at 10st. Maybe he still can – but not for The Last Bridge, not even for his mother, who trains the 10-year-old.
"I'd love to, I really would mum but I just can't do the weight. It's those cakes."
So it's Jamie Moore's turn to push and shove, cajole and curse and generally test how fit he is. The Last Bridge, an anti-hero, will probably go along nicely for a few furlongs – long enough for Moore to start thinking that he has been misunderstood – before deciding that enough's enough. Three miles five furlongs! I feel sorry for Moore already.
The Last Bridge hasn't always been such hard work. He's won four times but it's three years since his last triumph and all his successes were gained without the benefit of headgear. Recently a tongue-tie and cheekpieces have become de rigeur. Maybe they should be dispensed with, or perhaps added to, with blinkers, a visor and some kind of electrical device.
Johnson will have made his excuses and left before Moore gasps his way into the weighing room but only after the well placed Multiculture has given Johnson an easy victory in the novices' hurdle (2.50). It wouldn't matter how fat Johnson was, Multiculture would still win that.
While The Last Bridge is driving everyone mad another 10-year-old, Saroque, will be plodding through the Haydock mud to win the veterans' chase under the promising Mr Hugh Nugent (4.10).
By veterans' chase standards the field of seven is a small one and four of Haydock's other five races have between three and five runners. Wednesday used to be half-closing day but that's a long time ago. Bookmakers will be cross, racing professionals monitoring media rights and levy income will be cross and racegoers won't be too pleased, either. There's also a three horse race at Warwick and a four horse race at Newcastle. What's going on?
On the other hand, it's good to see the injury-plagued Lucy Alexander back again. She won't mind that the improving Clan Legend has only four rivals in the novices' handicap chase at Haydock (3.10). Let's hope the former conditional jockey's champion now has a long injury-free spell.
Later, at Kempton, the humble opening 45-50 handicap (5.45) has some intriguing features. Peter Niven, who trains in North Yorkshire, hasn't had a runner at Kempton either on the Flat or over jumps for at least five years but he's got one now – A Boy Named Sioux, with Adam Kirby booked.
The 13 race maiden has a reasonable chance but so do several others, five of them with recent course and distance form. There'll be a chance to watch Jason Watson on only his second ride, on Braveheart, and George Wood trying to give new trainer Luke McJannet a first winner with Free To Roam.