'It's been an amazing experience' - Richard Johnson rides his 3,000th career winner
Richard Johnson hailed the journey to his 3,000th career success as "an amazing experience" after St Saviour at Ludlow gave the champion jockey-elect another landmark winner.
The 38-year-old now needs just four more wins to reach 3,000 over jumps. Sir Tony McCoy is only other rider to achieve that feat.
Appropriately riding St Saviour for his boss Philip Hobbs, victory was fairly straightforward on the promising Highclere Thoroughbred Racing-owned four-year-old, who made his debut a winning one in the Best Wishes For 2016 Juvenile Maiden Hurdle.
Leading two from home, he came well clear for a 21-length call from The Coffee Hunter as the even-money favourite.
Johnson is carrying all before him this term and is virtually assured of a first title in April, one that eluded him when the now-retired McCoy dominated the scene.
He said in his blog for Betway: "It's great to get to the 3,000 mark. We knew we were getting close. I don't actually keep a record of every single one, so I was hoping someone would tell me when I got there!
"I really must say that I'm only as good as the horses I ride and the trainers and owners I've been associated with.
"I'd like to thank all the people I've ridden for over the past 22 years and obviously my agent Dave Roberts who has done such a fantastic job.
"My first winner was Rusty Bridge at Hereford for my grandad, Ivor. At that stage I thought I was just going to be an amateur jockey riding a few point-to-point winners.
"It's been an amazing experience and I've been very fortunate to work with so many great people over the years."
Johnson's career tally is made up of 2,977 UK jump wins, 17 in Ireland, four Flat wins and two international victories.
He rode his first winner under Rules on Rusty Bridge at Hereford on April 30, 1994 and has had 16,744 rides.
His 1000th winner was on Quedex at Stratford on April 19, 2003, while his 2,000th came courtesy of Fighting Chance at Newbury on December 16, 2009.
McCoy himself was quick to offer his congratulations.
The 20-times champion tweeted: "Congratulations to @dickyjohnson77 riding his 3000 winner today.
"Great achievement by a great bloke. @StobartGroup #jockeyChamp #champion."