Horse Trainer Robbed of £100K
A successful racehorse trainer said he thought his wife had suffered a heart attack when masked raiders held them up at gunpoint and robbed them of more than £100,000.
Howard and Sue Johnson, both 56, were relaxing at their substantial farmhouse outside Crook, County Durham, after one of the busiest weekends in the racing calendar when the terrifying eight-minute robbery took place.
Mr Johnson, the best National Hunt trainer in Northern England, was forced to open the safe in his extended house - which has an indoor swimming pool and stands behind high stone walls - then was told not to call police or they would be shot.
Sitting on the sun terrace at White Lea House, an emotional Mr Johnson said it was fortunate that his five-year-old granddaughter Anna-May had not stayed with them, as had been planned.
After watching Royal Rosa compete in the Grand National at the weekend, followed by a further 12 of his horses racing, plus attending to ewes who were lambing, Mr Johnson was relaxing at home reading the paper when the masked men tried to break down a door. One was brandishing a handgun while the other had a 7in (18cm) knife.
He tried to keep the men out, without success, and he was thrown against a glass door, cutting his forearm.
He was pinned down at gunpoint while the knifeman went upstairs where Mrs Johnson was reading, and marched her downstairs.
They forced him to hand over the contents of his safe which was around £100,000 - plus a further £1,000 left over from his weekend at Aintree.
Mr Johnson said: "Sue was shaking. I thought she had had a heart attack."
The couple waited 20 minutes before calling the police, and armed police were on the scene within minutes.
Hmmm - Horse Trainer has £100K in Arthur Ashe?
The raider might observe the Johnson family carefully before. Poor Mrs Johnson :'( It's bad, bad, bad when reading this news, my home was also stolen last night
Fans of "My Name Is Earl" may be intrigued by this story.
Johnson, for those who don't know, is the trainer of Abbeybraney - who was in the top 40 in the Grand National line-up last week, and Royal Rosa, who as things panned out would have been number 41.
Earlier in the week Johnson publically announced that if there were not sufficient withdrawals to get Royal Rosa in, he would withdraw his own horse Abbeybraney to ensure that it did.
Sure enough, when it got to Friday, he announced that Abbeybraney "hadn't eaten up" the night before & would regretfully have to be withdrawn. (It is against the rules for a trainer to simply withdraw a horse at that point if there are no medical grounds).
What happy chance for Mr Johnson that his horse, who he'd already announced he was going to withdraw, should develop such a convenient aversion to his food the day before the Grand National. It meant Johnson didn't even have to go to the trouble of producing a vets certificate, since "not eating up" would not involve any symptoms of provable illness. A quite remarkable stroke of good fortune.
All of which of course, was extremely bad news for the punters who'd backed the fancied outsider Abbeybraney. Since Johnson withdrew the horse (as opposed to it missing the ballot), all backers on Betfair lost their money. Furthermore all antepost punters (excluding the minority that may have backed him that week with a NRNB bookie) lost their money too.
Not that Johnson expressed the slightest regret about that. He'd got what he wanted, which was his preferred runner into the race.
I imagine those antepost punters must have felt like they'd been robbed.
£100k in the safe? He must have used up his ISA allowance already... once that's gone it's difficult to know what to do with surplus cash!
Don't hate the player, hate the game!
Yes there's certainly a large slice of karma cake in that story if that's true Fella. Perhaps the two events were related even.