Four-time Champion Jockey Richard Johnson has to go down as one of the greatest jump jockeys of all-time, with his no-nonsense style in the saddle a favourite for punters up and down the country. And he hasn’t finished yet.
His first winner came back in 1994 on Rusty Bridge at Hereford and he won the Champion Conditional Jockey title in the 1995/96 season, paving the way for a successful career in the game.
A first Cheltenham Festival winner was soon on the way when Anzum claimed the 1999 Stayers Hurdle for David Nicholson, a trainer who heavily supported Johnson before his retirement in December 1999. Johnson tasted success in other Championship races in the years to follow, winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2000 with Looks Like Trouble, the Champion Chase in 2002 with Flagship Uberalles before completing the quartet on Rooster Booster in the 2003 Champion Hurdle. He would also win Cheltenham Festival leading jockey in the 2002 season with two winners on countback.
Johnson is one of just two jockeys currently riding to have won all four Championship races at the Cheltenham Festival, the other being Barry Geraghty, who is retained by JP McManus.
Johnson is hugely prolific having won his 1000th race on Quedex at Stratford in 2003, becoming just the eighth rider to bag that many National Hunt winners. The 2000 mark followed six years later, at Newbury in December 2009, with the 3000th winner coming in January 2016 at Ludlow. However, for someone with so many winners, he still hadn’t claimed that elusive Champion Jockey title.
The legendary AP McCoy was the main reason and Johnson finished second on no less than 16 occasions before finally claiming the title in 2016 with 235 winners across the season. He has since won the title on a further three occasions and will be chasing a fifth crown in 2019/20.