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Champion elect Johnson's Top Gamble finally pays off

By Frank Brownlow

AP McCoy's certain successor as champion jockey, Richard Johnson, admitted he would like to get to Fairyhouse more often after landing the Normans Grove Chase on Top Gamble at the Irish Grand National meeting.

And it was a landmark day for Ulster jockey Brian Hughes who made it a century of winners this season with a double at Hexham on Gully's Edge and Gibbstown.

Johnson was runner-up an incredible 16 times during Ulster great McCoy's 20 successive champion jockey titles but, with a lead of 98 winners, is virtually guaranteed a first triumph next month at the grand old age of 38.

Johnson, who hailed the work put in by Top Gamble's trainer Kerry Lee, said: "The last time I was here was when I rode for my father-in-law Noel Chance in the Irish Grand National five or six years ago.

"It's great to come over, Kerry's horses are running very well and this horse, on his day, is very good.

"We were slightly worried the ground might have dried out too much, but it was a strong gallop and it suited him well.

"Once we jumped three out I felt I had a very good chance then."

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