Richard Johnson, the four-time champion jump jockey, 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.
“It was particularly important to me to finish on one for (trainer) 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 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 made the title his own for four successive years, from 2015/16 to 2018/19.
He added in his retirement 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.
“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.
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
— AP McCoy (@AP_McCoy) April 3, 2021
“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 has enjoyed a long association with Hobbs and the trainer paid tribute to the rider following his announcement.
“He’s been a part of my life for a long time,” Hobbs told At The Races.
“He’s been an amazing role model. You could never get anybody better for future jockeys to see what they need to do as far as the riding side, how to conduct yourself and everything that is needed to be a good jockey.
“It was only the last few days [that I had an inkling Johnson might retire]. Obviously, it had to happen someday, but at least he’s sound and in one piece, it’s a good time to get out.
“There is absolutely no side to him whatsoever, you never had an issue with him and that is phenomenal really.”