Johnson hoping Garde will bring up his 3,000th victory

CHAMPION jockey-elect Richard Johnson will be reunited with Garde La Victoire as he continues the chase for his 3,000th career success under National Hunt rules at Ludlow today.

Philip Hobbs’s charge was last seen when winning a Grade Two event at Cheltenham in November and connections are keen to get in two more outings before the Cheltenham Festival on March.

“He’s in great form at home and the plan is simply to get more experience into him ahead of Cheltenham,” said Johnson.

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Garde La Victoire faces just four rivals in the two-mile event, with Albert Bridge, Beallandendall, Doctor Harper and Gino Trail in opposition.

If Johnson’s mount lines up in the two-mile Racing Post Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham, his opponents could include Nicky Henderson’s L’Amo Serge whose Festival prep race is set to be the Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster on December 30. The Grade One-winning hurdler made an impressive winning debut over fences at Plumpton earlier this month on his first start since finishing fourth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last March.

“L’Ami Serge came out of Plumpton in very good form,” said trainer Nicky Henderson. “To jump as he did out of that ground was very pleasing.

“For now I think he wants to stay at that trip and there’s a race at Doncaster (Lightning) at the end of the month for him.”

Gordon Elliott is responsible for four of the 32 entries in the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick on Saturday.

The County Meath handler is considering this valuable staying handicap chase for Roi Du Mee, Captain Von Trappe, Mala Beach and Unic De Bersy.

The two other Irish entries are the Mouse Morris duo Dromnea and Folsom Blue.

Ditcheat trainer Paul Nicholls, responsible for last year’s winner Hawkes Point, is doubly-represented at Hampton Street, with Black Thunder, who unseated his rider in last Saturday’s Welsh National at Chepstow, and Vivaldi Collonges.

Today’s meeting at Fakenham, and tomorrow’s Newcastle card are the latest weather casualties.

However officials at Yorkshire courses Catterick and Wetherby are hopeful that planned meetings for Thursday and Saturday respectively can beat the elements.