CONTROVERSIAL trainer Howard Johnson has ruled out a comeback following his four-year ban from the sport for breaching welfare and horse medication rules.
There had been speculation the 62-year-old from County Durham could be on the verge of coming out of retirement when he was spotted at Sedgefield on Sunday – his first visit to a racecourse since the completion of his ban.
But Johnson, best known for his handling of three-time World Hurdle winner Inglis Drever and horses like Direct Route who was denied the 2000 Queen Mother Champion Chase by a whisker, has no intention of making what would be a dramatic comeback.
“I’m not going to bother,” he said. “I went to Sedgefield at the weekend and there was no shortage of people enjoying themselves, but it’s gone a bit quiet in the North in terms of good horses.
“It’s strange what’s going on in the North, but you need good, strong owners behind you and I don’t think many of the trainers up here have that.
“There’s been a bit of contact with a few of my old owners wanting me to start again, but after five years out, I wouldn’t feel confident.”
Inglis Drever’s owner Graham Wylie is now enjoying great success with Ireland’s dominant force Willie Mullins.
“It was me who told Graham to send all of his horses to Willie Mullins,” said Johnson. “They were all going to Paul’s (Nicholls) but I told Graham that Willie was a top-class trainer going places and now look at him. Graham is very happy with where he is.”