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Richard Johnson emerging from AP McCoy's shadow

By Frank Brownlow

Richard Johnson - runner-up to AP McCoy 15 times - looks set to finally clinch the jump jockeys championship this season, but another Ulsterman, Brian Hughes, is determined to have his say in the title race.

Northern Ireland legend McCoy retired in April at the age of 41, having won the title for 20 successive seasons, with Englishman Johnson so often left trailing in his wake.

And while Johnson is now 29 clear at the top with far more rides than any of his rivals, Hughes landed a 20-1 double - on board Cooper and Heist - at Sedgefield yesterday to move to 31 winners for the current campaign, with eight months still to go.

Ventura Storm set up a potential shot at the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere after running out an impressive winner of the Whitsbury Stud Stakes at Salisbury.

After winning the Newmarket maiden won by the mighty Frankel back in 2010 on his previous start, the Richard Hannon-trained two-year-old demonstrated his talents in disposing of some similarly useful rivals with relative ease in the mile contest.

Hannon said: "We put him in the Lagardere (Longchamp, October 4) and I think that is the right race for him. There is an excellent chance of him turning up in that.

"He definitely wants a mile. That was a very good race."

Clive Brittain reflected on a "charmed life" after announcing his intention to retire at the end of the season.

The 81-year-old Newmarket handler has enjoyed a stellar career, winning every British Classic at least once apart from the Derby, although he famously sent out Terimon to finish second at 500-1 to Nashwan in 1989.

"I've had some fantastic owners over the years and still have, as well as great staff. I've lived a charmed life," Brittain said.

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