Johnson keeps his focus

Handler dismisses hype despite huge Haydock promise

Last updated: 21st February 2011   Subscribe to RSS Feed

 Howard Johnson

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Howard Johnson has played down the hype surrounding impressive Haydock winner Back In Focus, who is far from certain to line up at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Irish point-to-point winner made a most impressive debut under Rules at the weekend, putting the smart Court In Motion firmly in his place in the Grade Two Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.

The six-year-old chestnut is now the ante-post favourite for the race of the same name at Cheltenham, but Johnson feels certain quarters are getting carried away on the back of just one run in testing conditions.

"People are going a bit over the top and are thinking it's a flying machine," said Johnson.

"I think it's a bit of a joke, to be honest. Don't get me wrong, he's a nice horse and I wasn't surprised to see him win as I knew he'd like the soft ground.

"But it could have been a false race in the heavy ground and I think the horse is getting over-hyped.

"I entered him at Cheltenham because Graham (Wylie, owner) likes to have runners there, but Cheltenham is not the be all and end all.

"He's certainly not a definite runner. He might just go for a novice hurdle at Newcastle and then we'll throw him out into a field until next season to go novice chasing.

"He is a lovely horse but he's been buttered up out of proportion.

"He'll probably have no more than one run this season and then we'll turn him away."