Cheltenham Festival 202412 – 15 March 2024

Point-to-point (steeplechase)

Richard Johnson OBE Richard Johnson on Noble Request at the 2006 Fighting Fifth Hurdle
Occupation Jockey
Born (1977-07-21) 21 July 1977 (age 43)
Hereford, England
Height 1.71 m (5 ft 7 in)
Career wins 3818 GB & IRE Jumps and 4 GB Flat
Major racing wins Cheltenham Gold Cup (2), Queen Mother Champion Chase, Champion Hurdle, Scottish Grand National, Welsh Grand National (2), RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle, Triumph Hurdle (3), Punchestown Gold Cup, Bet365 Gold Cup (2), James Nicholson Wine Merchant Champion Chase, Irish Gold Cup (2), Tingle Creek Chase, Arkle Challenge Trophy, Midlands Grand National.
Racing awards British jump racing Champion Jockey 4 times (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
Honours Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Significant horses Looks Like Trouble, Native River, Flagship Uberalles, Rooster Booster, Anzum, Detroit City, Lacdoudal, Florida Pearl
Cheltenham Gold Cup (2)
Native River Might Bite Anibale Fly
Looks Like Trouble Florida Pearl Strong Promise
Queen Mother Champion Chase
Flagship Uberalles Native Upmanship Cenkos
Champion Hurdle
Rooster Booster Westender Rhinestone Cowboy
Scottish Grand National
Beshabar Merigo Always Right
Welsh Grand National (2)
Native River Raz De Maree Houblon Des Obeaux
Edmond Forest Ivory Earthmover

Richard Johnson OBE (born 21 July 1977 in Hereford) is a retired English National Hunt jockey. Johnson is the second most prolific winner in the history of National Hunt Racing behind Sir Anthony McCoy, a long-time rival of Johnson’s, with over 3500 winners. Richard Dunwoody previously held the record with 1874.

Johnson holds the record for the most appearances in the Grand National and also the record for the most rides in the race without a victory. Johnson has twice won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, on Looks Like Trouble in 2000 and Native River in 2018. Johnson has been Champion Jockey on 4 occasions and has been a runner-up 17 times in the Championship (on 16 occasions to McCoy and once in 2020 to the new champion Brian Hughes).

Background and early career

Johnson comes from a racing family with his father being an amateur jockey and his mother, Sue Johnson, a successful trainer. Johnson left school at 16 to work for “”The Duke”” – David Nicholson who was a major influence on Johnson’s racing career and supported him in his bid to become a professional jockey. Johnson’s first winner under rules was on Rusty Bridge at Hereford in April 1994.

Johnson became Champion conditional jockey in the 1995/96 season, at the age of 18.

Jockey career

First 1000 winners (1994 to 2003)

Johnson’s first winner was his only winner in the 1993–1994 season. In the following season he rode 12 winners and the year after in the 1995–96 season he rode 56 winners. Johnson rode 100 winners in a season for the first time in 1996–97, with 102 wins. From the 1996–97 season onwards Johnson has ridden over 100 winners each season.

In 1996 Johnson won his first Grade 1 race, the Heineken Gold Cup aboard Billygoat Gruff, trained by David Nicholson. His second Grade 1 winner came in 1998 on Zafarabad in the I.A.W.S. Champion Four Year Old Hurdle, again trained by Nicholson. In this period Johnson also won his first Welsh Grand National (not a Grade 1) in 1999. Johnson’s first Irish Gold Cup victory came in 2001 Florida Pearl, trained by Willie Mullins. Flagship Uberalles won the 2000 Tingle Creek Chase and would become one of the most fruitful horses in Johnson’s career.

Johnson has had great success at the Cheltenham Festival. His first win at Cheltenham was on Anzum in the 1999 Stayers’ Hurdle. He won the 2000 Cheltenham Gold Cup with Looks Like Trouble and the 2002 Queen Mother Champion Chase with Flagship Uberalles. Johnson was top jockey at the 2002 Cheltenham Festival with 2 wins. Johnson was also victorious in the 2003 Champion Hurdle with the Philip Hobbs-trained Rooster Booster on which he would also come second in 2004. The 2003 festival also delivered the RSA Chase on One Knight. Looks Like Trouble delivered a further victory in the James Nicholson Wine Merchant Champion Chase (now the Ladbrokes Champion Chase).

In April 2003, Johnson became the eighth National Hunt jockey to ride 1,000 winners in Britain on Quedex at Stratford.

Continued success and 2000 winners (2003 to 2009)

2004 brought a second victory in the Irish Gold Cup, again aboard Florida Pearl.

Johnson won the 2006 Betfred Gold Cup on Lacdoudal and scored a second win in the race on Monkerhostin in 2008 under its current sponsor-based title, the Bet365 Gold Cup. Both winners were trained by Philip Hobbs.

In December 2009 Johnson became only the second rider after AP McCoy to ride 2000 winners, riding Fighting Chance to victory in the Wheels Up in the Powersolve Electronics Greatwood Charity Handicap Chase at Newbury.

First championship and 3000 winners (2009 to 2016)

In this period Johnson saw further success, riding 100 winners each season but continued to finished second to Tony McCoy in the Jockeys Championship. The 2010 season brought victory in the Punchestown Gold Cup, riding Planet of Sound who was trained by Philip Hobbs. In 2011, Johnson won his first Scottish Grand National, piloting Beshabar to victory. Johnson also won the Arkle Challenge Trophy in 2011 aboard Captain Chris. Johnson won the Midlands Grand National in 2014 on Goulanes.

The 3,000th winner came on board St. Saviour at Ludlow on 4 January 2016. In the same season, having been runner up to Tony McCoy on 16 occasions throughout McCoy’s 20-year dominance of the Champion Jockey title, Johnson was finally crowned champion for the first time in 2016 following McCoy’s retirement the previous season. 2016 also delivered Johnson a second Welsh Grand National, riding Native River, a horse that would deliver him subsequent success at the Cheltenham Festival.

Further championships and second Cheltenham Gold Cup (2016 – 2021)

Having won his first championship, Johnson followed this up with three further Champion Jockey title wins in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Following a broken arm, Johnson finished second in the 2020 Championship to Brian Hughes.

This period of Johnson’s career saw further success at the Cheltenham Festival. Johnson won the 2017 JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham on Defi Du Seuil and finished third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Native River for trainer Colin Tizzard. This combination would subsequently go on to win the 2018 running of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, beating the favourite Might Bite.

On 3rd April 2021 Johnson announced his immediate retirement at a meeting at Newton Abbot.

Personal life

For five years Johnson lived with the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips, a relationship that created a great deal of media interest. The couple split in 2003. Johnson subsequently married Fiona Chance whose father, Noel Chance, was the trainer of Looks Like Trouble. They have three children and as of 2018, Looks Like Trouble lived with them as a “”family pet”” in the words of Johnson who joked that he “”gained a wife and a father-in-law and everything else out of it””.

Johnson was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2019 New Year Honours for services to Horse Racing.

Grand National record

He has ridden in the Grand National 21 times, which is a record. He also has the record for most rides without a winner.

Grand National
Year Mount Finish
1997 Celtic Abbey Unseated rider
1998 Banjo Fell
1999 Baronet Fell
2000 Star Traveller Pulled up
2001 Edmond Fell
2002 What’s Up Boys 2nd
2003 Behrajan 10th
2004 What’s Up Boys Brought down
2005 Jakari Pulled up
2006 Therealbandit Pulled up
2007 Monkerhostin Refused
2008 Turko Fell
2009 Parson’s Legacy Fell
2010 Tricky Trickster 9th
2011 Quinz Pulled up
2012 Planet of Sound 12th
2013 Balthazar King 15th
2014 Balthazar King 2nd
2015 Balthazar King Fell
2016 Kruzhilin Pulled up
2019 Rock The Kasbah Brought Down

Johnson Vs. McCoy

Season RJ GB Wins AM GB Wins RJ IRE wins AM IRE Wins
2020-21 73 0 0 0
2019-20 122 0 0 0
2018-19 200 0 1 0
2017-18 176 0 0 0
2016-17 189 0 0 0
2015-16 235 0 1 0
2014-15 152 231 0 10
2013-14 155 218 1 11
2012-13 133 185 0 8
2011-12 153 199 1 12
2010-11 151 218 3 6
2009-10 160 195 1 6
2008-09 132 186 1 5
2007-08 122 140 0 8
2006-07 154 184 0 7
2005-06 167 178 0 22
2004-05 135 200 0 13
2003-04 186 209 2 0
2002-03 147 258 1 0
2001-02 132 289 0 1
2000-01 162 191 2 0
1999-00 142 245 1 7
1998-99 133 186 1 4
1997-98 120 253 1 8
1996-97 102 190 1 2
1995-96 53 175 1 7
1994-95 12 74 0 4
1993-94 1 0 0 3
Total 3799 4204 19 144

Career statistics

Big race wins

Cheltenham Festival (22)

Other notable races

Great Britain


External links