Ton-up for Johnson
Richard Johnson brought up a century of winners yet again in the Foundation Developments Novices' Handicap Hurdle at Ascot.
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The universally-liked jockey, perennial runner-up to Tony McCoy in the championship, passed the 100-mark for the 17th time in a row through De La Bech, trained by his boss, Philip Hobbs.
The 3-1 favourite was quite heroic in atrocious conditions as he made every yard of the three miles and fought off final rival Okafranca by a length and a quarter.
"I've just been very fortunate to have the support of Philip and some other very good trainers," said the 35-year-old Johnson.
"Myself and Tom O'Brien have been holding this horse up this season but he has been too keen so we thought he should just bowl on.
"He's really a three-mile chaser but hopefully there's more to come over hurdles too."
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Ruby Walsh got the better of McCoy in a fine tussle for the Shawbrook Bank Graduation Chase.
Trainer Paul Nicholls felt this small field event, for horses which have not won more than two chases, fitted in nicely for Walsh's mount Cedre Bleu, who has had a fairly low-key career so far.
The 5-4 joint-favourite sat in behind McCoy and Brass Tax for most of the way but as they jostled down the home straight, Cedre Blue found half a length more.
"I think putting cheekpieces on him has helped him concentrate better," said Nicholls.
"The conditions were perfect and he's a sort of unexposed horse. I'll probably find another one of these next month and then go for something better in the spring."
The team registered a double through even-money favourite Ulck Du Lin in the BGC Partners Handicap Chase.
David Bridgwater has a progressive horse on his hands in Wyck Hill (4-1), who took the Champagne Bollinger Silver Cup Handicap Chase by four lengths.
Effectively running off a 13lb higher mark than on his reappearance victory at Wetherby as he was out of the handicap, the strapping eight-year-old kept pulling out more for Tom Scudamore as he held off the persistent Katenko.
"Tom was brilliant on him today, and all the horse does is stay," said Bridgwater.
"He'll go up again but I might run him in the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton. He could end up being a National horse."