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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Second title for veteran - two decades after first

Chris Johnson: 53-year-old has won second New Zealand jockeys' premiership, two decades after the first
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Veteran rider Chris Johnson has claimed a second New Zealand jockeys' premiership, more than 20 years after his first.

The 53-year-old is based in the South Island while most of the major stables are in the North.

Johnson, who won his first title in 1995-96 with 139 winners and notched his latest with 112, has ridden more than 2,200 winners during his career, one of only seven NZ jockeys to pass 2,000.

"I've always loved racing, although when I first started riding I never thought I'd get to 1,000 wins let alone over 2,000," Johnson told NZ Racing Desk.

"I have had some ups and downs along the way, but I've had the opportunity to ride some tremendous horses and have been lucky enough to win a number of big races."

The jockey retired in 1999 but came back to riding in 2006.

Johnson's long-time friend John Tannahill manages his North Island rides and with the support of trainers such as Graeme and Debbie Rogerson, Johnson began travelling for rides at the beginning of the year.

"To have the support of trainers like Rogie, Shaune Ritchie and Donna Logan and Chris Gibbs along with his ardent South Island support base has been amazing and I know Chris is very appreciative of everyone who has helped him along the way," Tannahill said.

"Personally, I think he is riding better than ever with his fitness level the best it has been in many years and pretty damn good for a 53-year-old."

>>Murray Baker and his training partner Andrew Forsman have also had a season to remember, culminating in a second New Zealand trainers' premiership.

The two won the title in 2014-15 but the following season were outgunned by Te Akau Racing's Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards.

The Baker-Forsman team notched 107 wins in New Zealand for 2016/17 including 19 at black-type level and claimed another five stakes races in Australia headlined by the Sydney Classic double of the Australian Derby with Jon Snow and Oaks with Bonneval.

"I think this is the most number of black-type wins we have achieved with the 24 across New Zealand and Australia," said Baker. 

Personally, I think he is riding better than ever with his fitness level the best it has been in many years and pretty damn good for a 53-year-old
E.W. Terms
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