ON A day before racing went ‘behind closed doors’ with no spectators due to the coronavirus Champion Jockey Richard Johnson still remains 19 winners behind rival Brian Hughes.

The Kingsland based jockey took one winner from four rides on his home Hereford Racecourse on Monday afternoon while Hughes riding at Kelso also scored on one of his rides.

A disappointing Cheltenham Festival week was put behind him as Johnson teamed up with festival winning trainer Rebecca Curtis in the extended three-mile Handicap hurdle on her Wayfinder who was sent off 13/8, with the betting market only fancying the Evan Williams trained Ballybreen more strongly.

Ballybreen, led throughout the race until the second last hurdle with Wayfinder chasing the leader all the way and with Johnson working hard he managed to get his mount to lead approaching the final hurdle and they responded gamely when challenged again by Ballybreen to score by a length.

“I thought we were struggling but he’s stayed on well," said Johnson.

"The ground is quite sticky out there."

Johnson teamed up again with Curtis in the concluding two-mile bumper aboard her Getaway Withit but that race fell to the hot favourite The Edgar Wallace from the Kim Bailey yard in the hands of jockey David Bass.

The two-mile three furlong novices handicap hurdle saw Johnson team up with Byton trainer Kerry Lee on Demachine who was opposed in the betting initially in the six runner race by the Dan Skelton trained Alnadum, but after late support was sent off the 13/8 favourite.

Taking an outer course on the soft ground Sabbatical and Demachine led the field in the early stages, until Johnson allowed his mount to stride on at the third last hurdle, but had to give best over the final two hurdles as Alnadum stayed on the stronger and so continue Dan Skelton’s 42 per cent success rate at the Holmer track.

The extended three-mile novices handicap chase saw Johnson make the running aboard Sackett in the small five runner race and despite the odd mistake the pair had every chance but they faded over the final two fences and it was the James Davies ridden Ivilnoble who battled on well to score from No No Juliett and Sackett back in third.

In the opening two-mile Maiden hurdle Loughran was sent off a 5/4 favourite to continue the good record that trainer Dan Skelton has at the track.

The favourite travelled well to move into contention but just as he moved to challenge the leader Little Brian, Loughran tried to run out at the last hurdle, forcing jockey Harry Skelton to take corrective action.

This handed the initiative back to Little Brian from the Alastair Ralph stable, ridden by Liam Treadwell, to take the spoils with Loughran back in second and Golden Glory taking the third spot.