IT’S been a frustrating start to the year for our ambassador and champion jockey Richard Johnson.

Last week he broke his arm following a fall at Exeter and now has a race against time to be fit for the prestigious Cheltenham Festival in March.

He also faces what looks like an impossible task in securing a fifth champion jockey title. At the time of his injury he was neck-and-neck with leading Northern rider Brian Hughes, but as Richard sits and recovers, his rival will surely build up a lengthy lead.

Saying that, the jump season rolls on into mid April and on many days there are afternoon and evening fixtures. There is no doubt Richard will get plenty of support from Southern-based trainers, and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility he could ride more than ten horses a day on occasions.

He’ll definitely be giving it his best shot. This is a jockey who has ridden more than 100 winners for 24 consecutive seasons and who thinks nothing of a ten-hour round trip to Scotland for one ride.

Vale of Glamorgan trainer Evan Williams is quite rightly regarded as one of the best in his profession in the UK, and his recent achievement of saddling 1000 winners is testimony to his hard work and commitment for many years.

The first of his thousand winners came at Chepstow in April 2003, when he rode and trained the useful Cherry Gold to take the Dunraven Bowl. He’s hardly looked back since then and averages over 60 winners per season. Paul Moloney was his stable jockey for many years, until Adam Wedge took over in 2017.

He's had 64 winners at Chepstow, 104 at Ffos Las and a mammoth 117 at Ludlow.

One of Evan’s best horses, Silver Streak, won the 2018 Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las before finishing third in the Champion Hurdle itself. He reached a personal best of winning £823,000 in prize money last season.

At Chepstow, he’s won the competitive Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle twice with Court Minstrel and the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle in 2015 on Roadie Joe.

One of his most memorable days came at Sandown’s Tingle Creek meeting last December. Esprit Du Large won the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices Chase and half an hour later Mack The Man secured a valuable handicap. Both are owned by his long-standing patrons William and Angela Rucker.

The day after Annsam became his 1000th winner when scoring at Catterick, Supreme Escape won at Doncaster, so he is already on the way to the next thousand.

Chepstow’s next meeting is this Friday, 31st January. There are seven races from 1.20pm with tickets just £12 if booked in advance. On the day, they are £17. There is a two-course lunch package in The View Restaurant for £45 per person. To book, call the team on 01291 622260.