Richard Johnson, one of the most successful jockeys of all time, shocked the sporting world on Saturday when announcing his retirement with immediate effect. Johnson, 43, revealed the surprise decision after finishing third on the Philip Hobbs-trained Brother Tedd in the 2m5f handicap chase at Newton Abbot, after which he stood down from his ride in the last race.
The four-time champion rode 3,819 winners – a figure only bettered by great rival Sir Anthony McCoy – and claimed Cheltenham Gold Cup glory twice on Looks Like Trouble (2000) and Native River (2018) as well as many of jump racing’s biggest races. He was awarded an OBE in 2019 for his services to the sport.
Johnson, who was in tears after his final ride, said in a statement: “After nearly 30 years in the saddle, the time has come for me to retire. I have been so extraordinarily lucky to have ridden so many wonderful horses, and for so many incredible trainers and owners.
It was particularly important to me to finish on one for Philip and Sarah Hobbs who, like Henry Daly, have supported me for over 20 years. I’ll never be able to articulate what their loyalty has meant to me.
There are so many people to thank who have been part of my journey. Without ‘the Duke’ and Dinah Nicholson and their remarkable staff, I’d never have got that first leg up.
Noel Chance, Peter Bowen and Milton Bradley, thank you for putting your trust in me when I was starting out. Those were the days that shaped my career, with so many people who remain lifelong friends.
The truth is there are simply too many people to thank on an individual basis, but you know who you are and what you mean to me.
To jockeys past and present who I’ve shared weighing room benches with up-and-down the country, to the valets who have looked after me, to the doctors who’ve patched me up and to the physios who’ve put me back together.
Without Dave Roberts I’d have never ridden as many winners and without the help of physio Kate Davis in recent years I wouldn’t physically have been able to. I salute you all.
Thank you to the Tote and the ROA for sponsoring me. Thanks to all the fantastic racecourses and staff that put on this great show and to all the media who have been so supportive for so long.
To all horseracing fans who we have missed so much this year on our racecourses. Thank you for every cheer, every shout of encouragement, it’s given me enormous strength over the years. I am so very grateful to you all.
To my wonderful family, thank you so much. Mum, Dad and my brother Nick who have always been by my side. Finally, to my wife Fiona and amazing children Willow, Caspar and Percy. Without you nothing would have been possible.
Article and image credit: Racing Post/Wikipedia