Jockey Richard Johnson reached his quickest 50 in a season
Last Updated: 03/07/15 5:49pm
Richard Johnson reached his quickest 50 in his quest to land his first jump jockeys' championship when steering Easily Pleased to victory at Newton Abbot.
Johnson is setting a strong pace in his bid to succeed the retired Tony McCoy, to whom he finished second no less than 16 times in the title race.
In what is his best-ever start to a jumps campaign, Johnson reached the milestone on Easily Pleased (evens favourite) in the Francis Clark Handicap Chase.
However, it was nip and tuck at the business end of the race after Easily Pleased had led from the second fence but was challenged all the way to the line by Dave Crosse on Red Skipper.
Johnson was at his strongest to get Martin Hill's nine-year-old home by a nose in a bobbing finish.
Tim Vaughan's Bells Of Ailsworth (5-2 favourite) had taken Johnson to 49 when regaining the lead at the final flight from Only Gorgeous and going on to take the NewtonAbbotRace On Twitter Maiden Hurdle by two lengths.
However, Johnson could not complete a treble on the card, as he was out of luck on Rior in the concluding Helen Hambly Happy 40th Birthday Handicap Hurdle, won by 3lb claimer Matt Griffiths on the Jeremy Scott-trained Decimus (15-2).