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Grand National Jockeys: Richard Johnson
Tue, Mar 31st, 2015

2015 Ride: Balthazar King

Richard Johnson has the unfortunate record of having had more rides without winning in the Grand National than any other jockey. He  came close to ending that unfortunate sequence in 2014 with his Cheltenham Festival winner Balthazar King. This time around connections skipped the Cheltenham Festival and have made the Grand National Balthaszar King's target for the season. Were Johnson to finally break his National hoodoo there would be no more popular winner -  except maybe AP McCoy in his final Grand National !

About Balthazar King

Balthazar King (IRE) 11-11-02
Breeding: b g King's Theatre (IRE) - Afdala (IRE) (Hernando (FR))
Breeder: Sunnyhill Stud Born: February 12, 2004 Owner: The Brushmakers Trainer: Philip Hobbs Jockey: Richard Johnson
Form: 6/01436422/F211242F06/1142511P/15P001/120P-11112/F11

*Set to make third appearance in the Crabbie's Grand National after finishing 15th in 2013 and second last year.
*Bidding to become the first horse since L'Escargot (1975) to win the Crabbie's Grand National, having finished second the previous year.
*Has an excellent in record in cross-country chases and made it seven wins from 10 starts in such events with a gutsy victory at Cheltenham in November. Eight of his 16 victories have come at Cheltenham, including two at The Festival in cross-country chases (2014 & 2012). He has not raced since and been kept fresh for Aintree.
*He gained back-to-back victories in the valuable Listed Grand Cross Country de Craon at Craon, France, in September, 2014.
Race Record: Starts; 45; 1st: 16; 2nd: 8; 3rd: 1; Win & Place prize money: £489,912

About Richard Johnson

Born: July 21, 1977 Background: Attended Belmont Abbey School, the alma mater of Peter Scudamore, before leaving at 16 to take a job with then champion trainer David Nicholson. He was born and raised at Madley, Herefordshire, where his parents have a farm. Johnson comes from racing stock as his mother Sue holds a licence to train, while his father Keith, who won the 1982 Midlands Grand National on Bridge Ash, and his grandfather Ivor were both good amateur riders. Johnson is unlucky to be riding in the same era as Tony McCoy as he has finished runner-up to his rival in the jockeys' championship on 15 occasions. His first winner came at Hereford aboard Rusty Bridge on April 30,1994, and he has gone on to capture some of racing's biggest prizes, notably the 2000 Gold Cup at Cheltenham aboard Looks Like Trouble and the 2002 Queen Mother Champion Chase on Flagship Uberalles, as well as Rooster Booster's famous triumph in the Champion Hurdle. Other top-flight winners he has partnered include Florida Pearl, Anzum, Mighty Man, Detroit City, Planet Of Sound, Menorah, Landing Light, Menorah, Captain Chris and Reve De Sivola. He has a total of 20 winners at the Cheltenham Festival. He has a good record at Aintree and won the Crabbie's Topham Trophy over the Grand National course in 2001 on Gower Slave. He has twice finish second in the Crabbie's Grand National - What's Up Boys (2002) and Balthazar King (2014). In 2007 he married Fiona Chance, daughter of the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer Noel Chance and they have three children – Willow, Casper and Percy. Crabbie's

Richard Johnson Grand National Record

1997 Celtic Abbey (UR 15th),1998 Banjo (Fell 1st), 1999 Baronet (Fell 4th), 2000 Star Traveller (PU 27th); 2001 Edmond (Fell 15th); 2002 What's Up Boys (2nd); 2003 Behrajan (10th); 2004 What's Up Boys (BD 6th); 2005 Jakari (PU 20th); 2006 Therealbandit (PU 27th); 2007 Monkerhostin (Ref 7th); 2008 Turko (Fell 25th); 2009 Parson's Legacy (Fell 22nd); 2010 Tricky Trickster (9th); 2011 Quinz (PU 16th); 2012 Planet Of Sound (12th); 2013 Balthazar King (15th); 2014 Balthazar King (2nd)

About Balthazar King's Owners - The Brushmakers

The Brushmakers is a Hampshire-based trio involving farmer David Rees, born in 1972, his wife Maggie, retired farmer Chris Butler and Geoffrey Stevenson, who runs the Imperial Bathroom Company, and who Rees describes as 'an old rugby-playing friend of mine'. They take their name from the Brushmakers pub at Upham near Winchester, in which Rees once owned a stake. When he subsequently moved to the other side of Winchester, to the village of Hursley, he discovered his new local was the Kings Head, but being unimpressed with it he bought that too. He describes himself as an "arable farmer who also milks cows and keeps pigs and poultry - one of the few truly mixed farms in Hampshire". His interest in racing was derived through being a neighbour of the late trainer Bill Wightman, whose land Rees farmed. Wightman gave Rees a point-to-pointer and he has been involved in that sport ever since - one of his first buys was prolific winner Ball In The Net. He also raced Upham Lord, who was subsequently sold to Lincolnshire-based Mike and Jill Dawson and became Britain's champion between the flags based on wins in 2002 and 2003. Rees says: "I have subsequently been involved in five or six horses trained by Philip Hobbs, including Tamango, who fell at The Chair in the Topham Chase [in 2006]. We bought Balthazar King privately from Diana Whateley [also an owner with Hobbs]." Imperial Bathrooms is the only independent British-owned bathroom company still manufacturing in the UK. Imperial was founded in 1987 by Stevenson, who is the chairman, and Imperial remains still a family-owned company and prides itself in supplying the highest-quality products to a worldwide marketplace. Situated in the heart of the ceramic industry in the West Midlands, Walsall- based Imperial produce original designs to the highest standards, each product undergoing rigorous testing. The Brushmakers also own another successful chaser trained by Philip Hobbs – Roalco De Farges.

Crabbie's Grand National Record: 2013 Balthazar King (15th); 2014 Balthazar King (2nd)

About Balthazar Kings Trainer - Philip Hobbs

Born July 26, 1955 Background: Philip was brought up surrounded by horses. His father Tony Hobbs farmed, and had a permit to train for many years, breeding several good horses to run in the family colours. After school at King's College, Taunton, Philip went on to Reading University and achieved a BSc honours degree. He rode at Hickstead, show jumping as a junior, and gained several point-to-point winners and winners under National Hunt rules as an amateur before turning professional at the age of 21. Partnered 160 winners in a 10-year riding career including the Black and White Gold Cup at Ascot, the Killiney Novice Chase and the Midlands Grand National on such good horses as West Tip and Artifice. Hobbs made four appearances in the Grand National as a professional jockey in the 1980s and, although one of the best horses he rode was West Tip, he didn't get the leg up on him in the National, with those four rides resulting in two falls, one ninth place and an 11th. He started training in August, 1985, with only six horses and was successful with his very first runner, North Yard at Exeter. He is now one of Britain's top jump trainers and has gone close to winning the Crabbie's Grand National with What's Up Boys, second in 2002, Balthazar King in 20914 and Samlee, third in 1998. Philip's wife Sarah, whom he married in 1982, is the daughter of Bertie Hill, who won a gold medal in three- day eventing at the 1956 Olympics at Stockholm. They have three daughters, Caroline, Katherine and Diana. Achievements: has trained over 2,000 winners, including 18 at the Cheltenham Festival. Major Wins include: Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (2002 Flagship Uberalles), Stan James Champion Hurdle (2003 Rooster Booster), Racing Post Arkle Chase (2011 Captain Chris).

Philip Hobbs Crabbie's Grand National Record

1990 Gallic Prince (13th); Joint Sovereignty (Fell 19th); 1995 Gold Cap (13th); 1998 Samlee (3rd); Greenhill Tare Away (UR 27th); 1999 Samlee (10th); Bells Life (PU 26th); Mudahim (UR 6th); 2000 Village King (Fell 20th); Stormy Passage (Fell 22nd); 2001 Village King (Fell 8th); 2002 What's Up Boys (2nd); 2004 What's Up Boys (BD 6th); 2005 Double Honour (UR 21st); 2007 Zabenz (PU bef 7th), Monkerhostin (Ref 7th); 2009 Zabenz (Fell 16th), Parsons Legacy (Fell 22nd); 2010 Dream Alliance (PU 24th); 2011 Quinz (PU 16th); 2012 Planet Of Sound (12th); 2013 Balthazar King (15th); 2014 Balthazar King (2nd), Chance Du Roy (6th)

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