CHAMPION jockey Richard Johnson faces a race against time to overcome a broken arm ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.

The Kingsland-based Champion National Hunt jockey, was quoted as “very positive” on Tuesday evening that he will be back in the saddle in time to ride at the Cheltenham Festival in March, despite him suffering a broken right arm when he was unseated from his horse Westend Story in a novice chase at Exeter earlier in the day.

Johnson, champion jockey over jumps for the last four seasons and currently in second place in the race to be Champion jockey again, sustained his injury seven weeks before the opening day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival on March 10, and trainer Philip Hobbs, who retains Johnson as his stable jockey, said that the rider hopes to return to action in “a month or so”.

Hobbs commented: “He has broken his right arm in between the elbow and the hand. He is going to have an operation on it, to have it plated either today or tomorrow. He expects to be off for a month or so. He sounded very positive about Cheltenham.”

Despite Johnson’s confidence, he is clearly in a race against time to be fully fit for National Hunt’s showpiece event as the Professional Jockeys’ Association lists the average recovery time from a broken arm as 62 days but the Herefordshire Champion is still hopeful of returning to racing in time to capture some big prizes.

His absence from the sport for seven weeks also seems likely to hand an insurmountable lead to rival jockey Brian Hughes in the race for the jump jockeys’ championship, in which Hughes was holding a 114-111 advantage.