The jockey on the verge of becoming New Zealand's most successful is fighting to save his career.
Chris Johnson is eight wins from the record for race victories in New Zealand but the 56-year-old Cantabrian will have to convince racing bosses he is not an alcoholic and a danger to himself and fellow jockeys before he is allowed to ride again.
In an extraordinary story that few industry insiders are willing to discuss openly, Johnson's licence to ride is suspended until New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing's integrity panel is convinced he is fit to ride.
Johnson's troubles started when he failed a breathalyser test after riding in the first race at Riccarton on September 12, his blood alcohol rate of 133 mcg/l being above the allowed level for jockeys when riding of 100 mcg. The legal limit for a driver of motor vehicle is 250 mcg.
Johnson admitted the positive test and was suspended until October 16 and was fined $1000.
That appeared to be the end of the incident for Johnson, who has admitted his previous battles with the bottle but is adamant he has that under control and he did not drink heavily the night before the failed test or on raceday. That has been backed by sources close to him who have spoken to the Herald.
But last week Johnson was sent a letter informing him his licence had been reviewed by NZTR's licensing panel and he was not able to ride again "until such time as NZTR can be satisfied that your riding does not pose an elevated risk of harm to yourself or others".
That confusing part for Johnson and his supporters is that he has not been examined by a medical professional in person since his suspension was handed down.
NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry confirmed his organisation's stance but says they want to work with Johnson as his welfare and that of his fellow jockeys and horses is paramount.
Johnson is understood to have taken legal advice and is visiting a medical specialist in the field of alcohol dependency in Christchurch this week to obtain an independent assessment in the hope of regaining his licence.
Those close to Johnson who have spoken to the Herald believe he will be passed fit to ride, and if he gets his licence back he will resume his career on 2443 wins in New Zealand, just eight short of the country's most successful domestic jockey David Walsh.
Johnson was unavailable for comment on legal advice.