When did Richard Johnson retire?
On April 3, 2021, to the shock of everyone, Richard Johnson announced his retirement with immediate effect. Johnson rode his first winner under National Hunt rules, Rusty Bridge, at Hereford in April,1994 and, under the mentorship of David ‘The Duke’ Nicholson, won the Conditional Jockeys’ Championship in 1995/96.
By the time of his retirement, Johnson accumulated 3,819 winners, a figure bettered only by his great friend and rival Tony McCoy. Indeed, he was forced to play ‘second fiddle’ to McCoy for much of his career, finishing runner-up in the National Hunt Jockeys’ Championship on no fewer than occasions.
However, McCoy retired in April, 2015, allowing Johnson to finally emerge from his shadow. He did so in style, winning the jockeys’ title four years running between 2015/16 and 2018/19, with 235, 180, 176 and 200 winners, respectively. At the Cheltenham Festival, Johnson rode a career total of 22 winners and won each of the main ‘championship races’ – Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup – at least once.
In the Grand National, Johnson still holds the unenviable record of the most rides, 21, without success. The best he ever managed in the Aintree marathon was two second-placed finishes, on What’s Up Boys in 2002 and Balthazar King in 2014.