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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Game on as Johnson closes gap on early pacesetter Skelton to just one

Richard Johnson receives the champion jockey trophy at Sandown
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Richard Johnson was on Thursday only one winner behind Harry Skelton in the battle to be champion jump jockey after riding a sensational 95-1 five-timer at Perth.

Skelton, who finished third to Johnson in last year's title race, was 19 winners clear of his weighing-room rival in June but after a superb run of form Johnson has eroded that deficit to just one. 

The reigning champion teamed up with Gordon Elliott for all five of his winners at Perth and said: "It's great to have closed the gap, although there is still a long way to go and you just try to ride as many winners as possible."

Johnson's glorious day in Scotland came just 48 hours after he celebrated his 3,500th jumps winner in Britain and Ireland at Warwick.

He said: "There's a lot to look forward to in the coming months but a lot can happen too, especially during mid-winter, so it's essential to keep safe and sound. Days like this don't come along often so you've just got to enjoy them."

Skelton was a best-priced 5-4 to win his first jockeys' title in June but the pair have flip-flopped in the market now, with bookmakers reacting to the stunning fightback by hardening Johnson to odds-on favourite.

Jump jockeys' championship betting (best prices): 4-11 Richard Johnson, 7-2 Harry Skelton, 12 Brian Hughes, 33 bar

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It's great to have closed the gap although there is still a long way to go and you just try to ride as many winners as possible
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