RICHARD Johnson clinched his first victory since the re-opening of Hereford Racecourse.

The Pembridge based Champion National Hunt Jockey fittingly left it until the final race of the year riding Just a Thought to victory.

Johnson has filled the runner-up spot on a number of occasions since the course re-opened but his supporters were cheering once again as Johnson forced the 11/8 favourite home by half a length from the Michael Scudamore trained runner-up State Sovereignty.

“I got there in the end!" said a delighted Johnson after the race.

"It’s a brilliant track and holds lots of fond memories for me including my first ever winner.

"It was missed when it was out of action and I was one of those that was very keen to see racing returned.

“I couldn’t be more delighted.”

Just a Thought, trained by Rebecca Curtis, was always at the head of affairs but was hard pressed over the final two furlongs by State Sovereignty and she needed all of Johnsons strength to score.

This win completed a double for the west Wales trainer who had earlier won with the JP McManus owned Mystical Knight in the extended three mile.

Ridden by Aidan Coleman, Mystical Knight made smooth progress on the inner down the back straight before leading approaching the second last fence and running out a five length winner.

The two-mile five furlongs novices hurdle saw Finian’s Oscar upset the odds-on favourite and previous impressive course winner Acting Lass.

Finian’s Oscar was placed third early on by jockey Tom O’Brien but once he moved up to the lead approaching the second last hurdle Acting Lass had no answer.

The final of the extended three mile ‘Central Roofing’ mares handicap hurdle led to a tight finish with the honours going to Tom Bellamy riding Deckers Delight for Tiverton trainer Nigel Hawke.

Worcestershire trainer Henry Oliver was also in the winners enclosure as his Bandol, owned in partnership with Ian Mercer triumphed in the opening two mile three furlong ‘Cotswold Corpotrate Conditional Jockeys chase under a determined Tommy Dowling.