Richard Johnson, the second most successful National Hunt jockey of all time, has announced his retirement from race-riding with immediate effect.
Johnson, 43, has partnered over 3,800 winners since 1994. He was runner-up to AP McCoy in the jump jockeys’ championship on 16 occasions, going on to claim the crown in four consecutive campaigns from 2015-16 before Brian Hughes took his title away last season.
The surprise decision was revealed after Johnson had ridden Brother Tedd, trained by his boss Philip Hobbs, into third place in a handicap chase at Newton Abbot on Saturday.
The statement read: “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.”
Despite never winning the Randox Grand National, Johnson has captured many of the biggest race in the calendar, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice with Looks Like Trouble (2000) and Native River (2018), the Champion Hurdle with Rooster Booster (2003) and the Champion Chase with Flagship Uberalles (2002).
Johnson, who collected an OBE from the Queen in 2019, told The Owner Breeder magazine in March that he would not turn to training when his riding career was over.
He said: “We have a small stud. I’ve just taken four three-year-olds off the walker. Mum and Dad and my grandparents always had horses – they were farmers that had the odd horse for fun and my Dad rode as an amateur.
“I enjoy having horses at home on the stud. You see a foal born, you’re involved putting them on the walker and breaking them in. They’re all for sale so they go somewhere else and we follow their progress. We’ve bred quite a few and there’s enjoyment in seeing them run.
“When I eventually stop doing the day job, I don’t see myself as a trainer. That’s a 24-7 commitment and I’d like to spend more time with my family.
“I’d like to continue to be involved in the industry, through racecourses and with the ROA [as an ambassador]. I’ve loved being involved for many years and hope to continue doing so.”