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Richard Johnson is one of England’s most successful National Hunt jockeys having ridden more than 3,500 winners. He has also been a Grand National jockey on a record 21 occasions, and as of yet, this is one of the few races he hasn’t managed to win. Continue reading to learn more about this icon of British racing who is still going strong at the tender age of forty-two.
Overview of Richard Johnson’s Career
Racing is in the blood of the Johnson family. His father was an amateur jockey and his mother, Sue, a well-known trainer. Born in 1997, Richard Johnson rode his first winner, Rusty Bridge, under rules in 1994, when he was still only 16 years of age. By the end of 1995/96 season, he was the Champion Conditional Jockey.
Over the years, Johnson has excelled at Cheltenham where he’s been victorious in the Gold Cup, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Champion Hurdle and the Stayers’ Hurdle. A mark of this achievement is that only one other jockey that is active today (Barry Geraghty) has clinched all of those four Cheltenham championship races.
In 2003, Johnson was the eighth National Hunt jockey to reach the milestone of riding 1,000 winners when he guided Quedex home at Stratford. His 2,000th win was at Newbury on Fighting Chance in December 2009 and the 3,000th career winner came aboard St. Saviour in 2016 at Ludlow.
Johnson has ridden more than 100 winners each season for the past 23 years. A record that dates back to the 1996/97 season. However, it wasn’t until 2016 when he claimed his first National Hunt Champion Jockey title.
He had been runner-up on 16 previous occasions to the mercurial AP McCoy. In 2017, Johnson added a second Champion Jockey title to his collection and even in the 2018/19 season, aged 41, he rode an impressive 200 winners from 979 rides.
Richard Johnson Trivia
Away from the racetrack, Johnson hit the headlines in 1998 when he began courting the Queen of England’s granddaughter, Zara Phillips, who was an equestrian rider at the time. After being together for five years, they parted ways in 2003. Thankfully now we are able to watch Grand National live stream and witness these events from the comfort of our home.
Johnson received an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) as part of the 2019 New Year Honours List. This was for his commitment and services to horse racing which now spans more than a quarter of a century.
Richard Johnson Wins
Given such a stellar career, we are yet to hear the words, Richard Johnson Grand National winner. This is a brief overview of Johnson’s history as a Grand National jockey:
- 2nd twice in 2002 on What’s up Boys and Baltazar King in 2014
- 9th in 2010 on Tricky Trickster
- 10th in 2003 on Behrajan
- 12th in 2012 on Planet of Sound
- 15th in 2013 on Baltazar King
- Failed to complete the course on the other 15 rides
While Richard Johnson Grand National jockey has struggled, he is still piling up the wins elsewhere. Some of his big race wins in 2019 for GB jumps, include:
- Thyme Hill in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)
- Atlanta Ablaze in the BDN Construction Ltd Bud Booth Mares’ Chase
- Thyme Hill in the Unibet Persian War Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)
- Go Another One in the Betway Challenger Two Mile Hurdle Series Final Handicap Hurdle
- La Bague Au Roi in the Flogas Novice Chase (Grade 1)
The question remains; will Richard Johnson, the Grand National jockey, secure an Aintree victory before retirement? It’s not too late but time is running out. Hopefully, 2020 Richard will be sure to read up on ante post.