Richard Johnson announces retirement

Four-time champion jumps jockey Richard Johnson has announced his retirement.

Johnson, 43, announced his unexpected decision after his final ride on Brother Tedd at Newton Abbot on Saturday.

He said: “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.

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“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.”

Many of Johnson’s highest-profile winners came for Hobbs, including on Rooster Booster in the 2003 Champion Hurdle.

He also rode two Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, Looks Like Trouble in 2000 and Native River in 2018

Johnson added in a statement:  “There are so many people to thank who have been part of my journey.

“Without ‘the Duke’ (trainer David Nicholson) and Dinah Nicholson and their remarkable staff, I’d never have got that first leg up.

Richard Johnson won his second Cheltenham Gold Cup on Native River in 2018
Richard Johnson won his second Cheltenham Gold Cup on Native River in 2018 (Tim Goode/PA)

“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 (agent) 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.”

Johnson was a perennial runner-up to 20-times champion jockey Sir Anthony McCoy for much of his career – but following his great rival’s retirement, he too made the title his own for four successive years, from 2015/16 to 2018/19.

He added: “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.”

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