Richard Johnson: crowned champion jockey at Sandown on Saturday
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
In an open letter, the new champion jockey says a wave of goodwill helped him achieve his dream
I CAN’T personally thank everyone who I’d like to thank because there are so many people who have helped me along the way, so hopefully they will all read this and know how grateful I am for everything.
It’s been a crazy year, an incredible year, and from my point of view it couldn’t have gone more smoothly. I rode more winners than I’d ever managed before and I’ve felt there’s been such an undercurrent of goodwill towards me throughout the season – it’s been amazing.
I’ve had so much support from so many trainers, owners and stable staff, the racing press and general media have been very supportive, and my friends and colleagues in the weighing room have helped me keep my feet on the ground in their usual way!
It has seemed as though the whole racing world has been behind me, and it’s all really helped me achieve something that I have always strived for, to finally do what I’ve always wanted to do and become champion jockey. Just writing that feels great, and it’s something I’m looking forward to getting used to!
Special thanks have to go to certain people. Philip Hobbs, of course, who has been a great supporter and ally for such a long time. He’s had a wonderful season too, which has been a big boost for me, and I know the whole team at Sandhill Stables have been right behind me this season, the same as they are every season. I am champion jockey, but I couldn’t have done it without them, and I hope they all feel part of what we’ve achieved together.
Then there’s my agent Dave Roberts, who left no stone unturned in finding me winning rides. I rode winners for 41 trainers over the course of the season and had more than a thousand rides – Dave kept me very busy but I’ve never been so happy to work so hard. And my driver Roy Partridge has been a huge help in taking away all the pressures of travelling from one end of the country to the other.
The likes of Tim Vaughan, Henry Daly, Jonjo O’Neill, Charlie Longsdon and Gordon Elliott have all been fantastic, so supportive and so kind to keep putting me on winners. They enabled me to maintain my consistency throughout the season, to keep the pace up all the way, and the faith they and their owners have placed in me has been almost overwhelming.
Help from family
Finally, but really firstly, I couldn’t have achieved everything that I’ve achieved without my family behind me. I must thank my mother Susan, my father Keith and my brother Nick for all their encouragement when I was starting out and ever since, and of course my wife Fiona, who has always been so supportive – I can’t thank her enough.
A jockey’s life sometimes doesn’t allow you to spare the time for your family that most husbands and fathers can manage, and Fiona and my children Willow, Caspar and Percy have been so understanding throughout this season and many others. I hope I’ve made them proud.
This season has been the best of my career, which started all those years ago as a boy learning the ropes with David Nicholson, and has culminated in my becoming champion for the first time and hopefully not the last time.
For the last 12 months I’ve felt part of one big team, everyone backing me up, everyone going out on a limb to give me what I’ve always wanted. I’m just the lucky one who gets to ride the winners. I appreciate it so much. Thank you.
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