Four-time champion National Hunt jockey Richard Johnson shocked the world of racing when announcing his retirement from the sport with immediate effect yesterday (3 April).
The 43-year-old jockey, who has 3,819 winners to his name, revealed the 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.
A visibly emotional Richard explained his decision to At The Races after his final race: “That’s it for me — I’ve had an amazing time, but it’s the right time for me to stop now. It was important to me to finish on one of Philip’s horses, and although I couldn’t go out on a winner, I’ve had an amazing time and great support from absolutely everybody.
“I love being a jockey and it’s something that has given me so much pleasure for such a long time. I’ve achieved a lot more than I ever dreamt I would so I just want to thank everybody and it’s now time for me to go and do something else.”
Throughout his illustrious career, Richard, who was awarded an OBE in 2019, clocked two Cheltenham Gold Cup victories (Looks Like Trouble in 2000 and Native River in 2018), and had a great rivalry with fellow former jockey AP McCoy. McCoy is the only jockey to have won more races than Johnson to whom Richard was runner-up to in the jockey championship 16 times.
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McCoy paid tribute to Johnson’s career on Twitter, saying: “Sometimes those who challenge us the most teach us the best. You did both to me for over 20 years. I will be forever grateful to you, thanks buddy. When you go home tonight look in the mirror you’ll see what a champion looks like. Enjoy your retirement @dickyjohnson77.”
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