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Legends of the sport: Seven-time champion National Hunt jockey John Francome *H&H Plus*

The seven-time champion was not only “poetry on horseback”, but changed the public perception of jockeys, writes Julian Muscat

Just occasionally, in the self-perpetuating world of horse racing, a shimmering talent emerges from beyond the sport’s perimeters. Since it does not emanate from familial succession, it is unencumbered by conventional wisdom.

This novel force will redefine the art of the possible. André Fabre, the son of a diplomat, is one such talent. Fabre has been champion trainer in France no less than 30 times. His equivalent in Britain is Martin Pipe, the son of a bookmaker who was champion jumps trainer 15 times in 17 seasons, starting from 1988-89.

Then there was John Francome MBE, the son of a fireman/builder who was raised in a Swindon council house.

Michael Dickinson, whose mastery of training jumpers was amplified when he saddled the first five home in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup, would say of Francome: “He is the best jockey I have ever seen.”