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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

McDonald's and orange juice on the menu for Johnson's Gold Cup party

Richard Johnson (right): congratulated by Sean Flanagan after winning the Gold Cup
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Richard Johnson celebrated winning the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup with orange juice and a McDonald's, the champion jockey revealed on Monday as he started to come to terms with the magnitude of his victory on Native River.

Johnson's masterful front-running ride was a key factor in Native River getting the better of Might Bite in an epic duel for the festival showpiece, but his commitments at Kempton the following day meant there were no champagne and oysters.

Reflecting on the festivities that followed his second Gold Cup victory, Johnson said: "I was designated driver as I was riding the next day, so was on orange juice as we celebrated with the owners and the Tizzards.

"We stopped off at McDonald's on the way home but I'm sure if there hadn't been racing the next day, the celebrations would've been slightly different."

Following success on Looks Like Trouble in 2000, it had been a long wait for another Gold Cup for Johnson and the father-of-three has been minded to cherish the occasion.

"I didn't think I appreciated it enough the last time so I've tried my best to take it all in," he said. "To have any Cheltenham winner is very special but the Gold Cup is the biggest race of them all.

"It's lovely this time round having children and we'll remember and treasure this together. They took my Gold Cup trophy into school today to show their friends and they've been very excited."

Richard Johnson's children took his Gold Cup trophy into school to show their friends

Johnson equalled his father-in-law Noel Chance's Gold Cup tally – the former trainer responsible for Looks Like Trouble and Mr Mulligan three years earlier – and is already looking to better the record.

"Native River is only eight and I'm already dreaming of being back there in a year's time," he said. "He jumps fantastically, stays so well and answers every call. In a weird way, I had an enjoyable time in the Gold Cup because everything was so trouble-free."

The only sour note from a memorable race for Johnson was the seven-day whip ban and £6,550 fine handed down by the stewards, but he does not want that to overshadow the performance.

"I don't think my use of the whip it affected the result," he added. "I'm disappointed I went over the limit in the heat of the battle and would hate for that to take anything away from the victory as it had nothing to do with the horse winning or losing.

"I'm frustrated with the punishment but it's there in the rule book and I've got to accept it."  

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I'm sure if there hadn't been racing the next day, the celebrations would've been slightly different
E.W. Terms
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