Richard Johnson will be out to avoid an unwanted record this weekend as he mounts his 25/1 shot Planet of Sound in the Grand National at Aintree.
The 34-year old will be riding in his 16th National, he has been victorious in none of his previous 15, and if he fails to enter the winner’s enclosure on Saturday afternoon he will become the only jockey to have competed over the famous fences 16 times and failed to be crowned champion.
In his mid-30’s Johnson is approaching the end of his career as a jump-jockey and he will be keen to finish without the ‘honour’ of being the National’s most unfortunate of competitors.
AP McCoy, who will ride Cheltenham Gold Cup winner ,Synchronised at 6/1, won at the 15th attempt only two years ago when he rode Don’t Push It to victory, proving that even the greatest can take a while to master the unpredictability of the Merseyside showpiece.
Johnson himself has played second-fiddle to McCoy most of his career and it is safe to say, that if it hadn’t been for the 2010 Sports Personality of the Year, Johnson would be revered as the greatest jump jockey of all-time.
McCoy has been the Champion Jockey for the last 16 seasons, on 13 of those occasions it has been Johnson just behind him.
It seems ironic then, that the title Johnson looks most likely to beat his arch-rival to, is the one least desired by jump jockey fraternity.
Johnson, has ridden well over 2000 winners, came close to National success in 2002 on What’s Up Boys, until he was narrowly beaten to the post by Bindaree.
The Hereford born jockey will be keen to dodge having his name added to the likes of Jonjo O’Neil, Peter Scudamore and Robert Thornton, as great men to never taste triumph in the big one.