Johnson favourite to succeed McCoy as champion jockey
BOOKMAKERS have installed Richard Johnson as the 7/4 favourite to succeed Tony McCoy as England's champion jockey next season.
Markets were formed by several firms in the minutes after McCoy announced his retirement, with Johnson topping Ladbrokes' list. Sam Twiston-Davies is 3/1 second favourite, with Barry Geraghty rated a 12/1 outsider to take the title.
However, it will not be as simple as latching on to whoever is called upon by JP McManus and Jonjo O'Neill, as the 19-times champion's staggering numbers were assembled with help from many trainers.
The Co Antrim native takes over fancied rides for Donald McCain, David Pipe, Nicky Henderson and Philip Hobbs when their jockeys are unavailable. The dynamic will change and the aspiring champion will have to build new working relationships.
McCoy, meanwhile, is no nearer to knowing where he might have his final ride, which means Punchestown will have to wait to see if he leaves the stage at their Festival.
Having announced his impending retirement following his 200th winner of the season on Mr Mole, the only question remaining is where the curtain will come down. McCoy says the exact location is far from certain, but he will be at Cheltenham and Aintree, and could go to Punchestown.
Speaking to Ivan Yates on Newstalk's Breakfast Show, the champion jockey explained: "I wanted to go out in a blaze of glory and ride 300 winners, but that wasn't to be.
"The closer I got to 200, though, I was thinking that after the big Festivals might be a good time to go out. It would be my 20th championship and I wanted it to be on my terms with no speculation.
"I don't do whiparounds or changing my mind, I won't be changing it now. . . I've always been frightened of carrying on too long and I've always wanted people to ask why I was retiring, not why I wasn't.
"It's one day at a time and I don't know what's going to happen, I'm just going to try and enjoy what is left of my riding career.
"Obviously JP (McManus) is my boss and I'll be very much guided by what he thinks.
"I kind of thought yesterday that winning the Hennessy will be my last ever ride in Leopardstown and it sent tingles down my spine."
The McCoy retirement tour yesterday stopped off at the humble surrounds of Catterick, where he left with a winner from two rides.
Michael Appleby booked the champion jockey for 2/1 favourite Dewala in the two-mile handicap hurdle and much to the delight of punters, the pair made all the running to beat Bogside by five lengths.
McCoy's other mount was for John Ferguson on Red Devil Lads in the featured handicap chase, but the combination weakened up the straight to finish fourth to Grand National hopeful Saint Are.
Elsewhere, Don Cossack's prospects of landing the Ryanair Chase for his owner Michael O'Leary have been enhanced by yesterday's confirmation from Paul Nicholls that his Al Ferof will miss Cheltenham.
The trainer reported that the former Supreme Novices winner has a problem with an entrapped epiglottis which requires surgery and will force him to miss his intended run in the Betfair Ascot Chase on Saturday.
The champion trainer explained: "Al Ferof has a minor problem which rules him out of his intended target. . . the aim is to get him ready for Aintree and Punchestown.