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Richard Johnson set for Thursday return to reignite UK jumps title race with Hughes

Richard Johnson will be back in the saddle on Thursday, with the four-time UK champion jumps jockey having recovered from a broken arm sustained in a fall at Exeter just over a month ago.

Johnson is booked for two rides; one at Musselburgh for Olly Murphy and one for boss Philip Hobbs at Ludlow. His imminent return to action is not only a timely boost for the jockey ahead of the Cheltenham Festival, but also reignites the title race between himself and Brian Hughes.

With several meetings cancelled recently due to bad weather, Hughes has not been able to press on in the title race as he may have hoped, and on Monday his lead over Johnson stood at 19 winners, with a total of 130.

Johnson said on Monday afternoon: "I have just spoken to Jerry Hill, the BHA doctor, and he is happy for me to return to riding on Thursday. It looks like the plan will be for me to be at Ludlow or Musselburgh as things stand and it will be good to be back.

"The specialist was happy with the x-ray which was an important step in the right direction and  I schooled at Yogi Breisner's on Monday morning for Warren Greatrex and everything felt fine."

Johnson previously spoke of his desire to see if he could reel in Hughes and claim a fifth consecutive championship in an interview in last Sunday's Racing Post.

Ladbrokes and Coral are offering 12-1 about Johnson winning the jockeys' championship with Hughes priced at 1-33.

Johnson's Gold Cup mount Native River was last week ruled out for the remainder of the season but leading Racing Post Arkle hope Brewin'Upastorm and Thyme Hill, entered in the Ballymore and Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, are among his top rides at the Cheltenham Festival.

Hughes will be hoping to extend his advantage at Catterick on Tuesday, where he has three rides if the North Yorkshire track passes its inspection at 8am, and is engaged for rides at Market Rasen and Musselburgh on Wednesday.

Hughes last week had his three-day ban for weighing in light at Carlisle put on hold while the BHA investigates the circumstances around the incident. 

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