Four-times British champion jump jockey Richard Johnson announced his retirement on Saturday at the age of 43.
The Englishman holds the record for most appearances in the Grand National without winning (19), and is second in the all-time list of National Hunt Racing winners behind Tony ‘AP’ McCoy.
“That’s it for me,” he told www.attheraces.com in a surprise announcement after finishing third on Brother Tedd at Newton Abbott.
“I’ve had an amazing time but it’s the right time for me to stop now.
“I love doing it and it’s given me so much pleasure for such a long time… there’s lots of young lads in there that are probably glad to see the back of me.”
McCoy, 20 times a champion jockey who retired in 2015, paid tribute to his great rival on Twitter.
“Sometimes those who challenge us the most teach us the best,” he said.
“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.”
Johnson twice won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, on Looks Like Trouble in 2000 and Native River in 2018, and rode 23 winners at the festival. He finished runner-up to McCoy in the championship 16 times.
In a statement, he thanked his many fans in the sport as well as owners and trainers, jockeys past and present and “the doctors who’ve patched me up and the physios who’ve put me back together.
“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.”