CHAMPION Jockey Richard Johnson is on course to retain his title after hitting 150 wins already this season.

The Herefordshire-based jockey reached the mile-stone in the Stobart Jump Jockeys’ Championship with his victory on Tidal Flow in the Qolcom EBF Stallions “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury Racecourse before Christmas.

Johnson, who is on course to become Champion Jump Jockey for the fourth consecutive season, reached the 150-mark from 668 rides at a strike rate of 22 per cent.

The 41-year-old was delighted to reach the 150-mark at such an early stage of the season and cited early pressure from jockey Harry Skelton (and his brother, trainer Dan) as the catalyst for his rapid start to the season.

“I’m delighted with the way the season has gone so far, said Johnson.

"The first aim is always to try to get to 100 winners, and then onto 150. So to reach the 150 mark before Christmas is fantastic – I’m looking forward to Christmas now and I’ve got plenty to look forward to in 2019.

“You’re always trying to ride as many winners as possible, but it was a case of trying to keep up with the Skeltons early on this season, they got off to an absolute flyer. But Philip’s (Hobbs) horses have been in fantastic form and on the whole, the last three months have gone particularly well for me.”

Johnson is going at a quicker rate than his previous two Stobart Jump Jockeys’ Championship winning seasons, but marginally slower than his first title win in 2015/16.

The Herefordshire-based jockey revealed that his main goal is to secure a fourth straight Stobart Jump Jockeys’ Championship, and retaining the Timico Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March next year, with Native River.

He said: “The Stobart Jump Jockeys’ Championship is the most important thing for me, if I’m lucky enough to ride any big winners then that’s a bonus.

“The thing I would most hope for aside from the Championship would be for Native River to come back and win the Gold Cup.”