by LIAM RICHNER
Since he became a pro jockey, Richard Johnson has forever been in the shadow of the great AP McCoy.
The 38-year old has had to remain patient for his chance in the spotlight, and following McCoy’s retirement last year, he finally looks set to win the race that has eluded him since 1997.
The Grand National takes place this Saturday and for Johnson, it will hopefully be 20th time lucky.
The Hereford-born jockey is the second most successful jump jockey of all time, behind the infamous McCoy, with over 3,000 race wins.
He is well on course to become champion jump jockey for the first time in his distinguished career, after 16 consecutive years finishing runners up, and a win at Aintree this weekend would be the cherry on top of the cake for Johnson.
A couple of runners-up positions have been as successful as the 38-year old has got at the world’s most famous horse race, since his first mount with Celtic Abbey 19 years ago.
This year, Johnson will ride on the Philip Hobbs-trained Kruzhlinin, a horse that is constantly improving. The nine-year old finished tenth in the 2014 event and then seventh a year later.
2016 has also been solid for Kruzhlinin. He won at Kempton on his first start for Hobbs in January , and then he ran a solid enough race at the Cheltenham Festival last month, finishing fifth.
And the soon-champ jump jockey to be is very happy with his partner in crime, as he told BBC Sport:
“Kruzhlinin ticks a lot of boxes. He’s got a decent level of ability which is important and he travels well, along with the fact that he’s a big strong horse.
“You can never be too confident, but he fits the right profile.”
A win at the National will for sure put his name out there to the wider public. AP McCoy is well-known to both racing and non-racing fans alike, and that is surely something that will happen to Johnson should he add the greatest of all prizes to his valuable collection.
The 38-year old already has the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle in his trophy room, but nothing would compare to a Grand National winner’s trophy.