Richard Johnson says champion jockey title 'mine to lose'

Title 'mine to lose now' - Johnson

Richard Johnson says an elusive first champion jockey title is "mine to lose" after his best start to a season.

After 16 years of finishing runner-up to retired 20-time champion AP McCoy, Johnson has built a big lead this year.

The 38-year-old recorded his fastest-ever century of winners - by mid-October - and led nearest rival Aidan Coleman by 42 after Tuesday's racing.

"It's my dream to be champion jockey and at the moment it looks like I've got a chance of getting it," he said.

Johnson took his tally of winners this season to 123 on Tuesday, while 27-year-old Coleman has won 81.

"I've never had 200 winners so that would be a nice target too but if I can become champion jockey, hopefully it will all roll into one," Johnson told BBC Midlands Today.

"With a bit of luck on my side it's probably mine to lose now rather than mine to win."

The jump racing season runs from April to April.

'I'm not sure whether they feel sorry for me'

Johnson is approaching 3,000 winners in his 22-year career.

The Hereford jockey acknowledges the absence of McCoy, who retired at the end of last season after riding more than 4,300 winners, has "benefited" him.

But he also believes the support of trainers Philip Hobbs and Kerry Lee, who took over from her father Richard in July, has helped.

Richard Johnson and AP McCoy
Johnson said of McCoy prior to his retirement: "He's a great friend and always will be"

"I'm very pleased. This is the best season I've ever had," he said.

"Obviously AP retiring has left a few more gates open for me, and I've definitely benefited from his retirement, but people have also been very supportive.

"I'm not sure whether they feel sorry for me for being second to AP so many times or just feel sorry because I'm getting old and it's time I did something."

'There's no reason to stop'

Winning his maiden title will be an obvious highlight for Johnson, but he has no plan to retire should he become champion.

"I get to ride some of the best horses in the country if not the world," he said.

"I'm one of the lucky few who get to go racing every day and have the chance of having winners every day, which is what we all do it for.

"I'm fit and healthy and enjoying it so there's no reason to stop but a championship would definitely make my career."