Armed bandits rob Grand National trainer of £100,000

A successful racehorse trainer was held at gunpoint and robbed of more than £100,000.

Howard Johnson, 56, was at his farm when two men in balaclavas broke down his front door and burst in armed with a revolver and a 7in knife.

They forced him to open his safe and fled warning him not to call police or they would shoot him and his wife.

Racehorse trainer Howard Johnson

Overpowered: Racehorse trainer Howard Johnson was confronted by two men in balaclavas at his hom in Roddymoor, County Durham

Mr Johnson was reading a newspaper at his farm in Roddymoor, County Durham, when the attack happened on Sunday night.

He said: 'All of a sudden I heard a horrendous thud - I thought a picture had come off the wall. 

'I jumped up and rushed to the door and there were two of them saying "We're going to get you. Open the door".

'I couldn't keep them back. They overpowered me and chucked me against the glass doors. I shouted up to my wife Sue "We're getting burgled".' Mr Johnson was held at gunpoint while one of the robbers armed with the knife went upstairs and dragged his wife out of bed.

They took a 'six-figure' sum from the safe and more money from upstairs that he had won at Aintree at the weekend.

Mr Johnson, who trains Royal Rosa, which ran in Saturday's Grand National but failed to finish, said: 'I have never been as frightened in my life before - and I have been kicked by bulls and horses and was nearly killed by a cow.'

He said it was lucky that their five-year-old granddaughter was not staying with them, as had been planned.

The couple raised the alarm and armed police were on the scene in minutes.

They were unable to return home until yesterday while forensic examinations were carried out.

Mr Johnson said: 'I couldn't act, they would have killed us. I just kept cool.

'The robbers never got excited and they weren't shaking, they were professionals.'

He said the money taken was being saved up to buy a dream cottage.

'It's just as well we had the cash. If we didn't, I don't think I'd be talking to you now,' he added.

Mr Johnson has trained 60 winners this National Hunt season, with prize money of almost £220,000.

He is the leading National Hunt trainer in northern England. His most high-profile horse was Inglis Drever. 

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