‘We’ve made each other so much better’: Sir Anthony McCoy pays tribute to recently retired Richard Johnson
‘He tortured me … we made each other so much better’: Sir Anthony McCoy pays tribute to Richard Johnson after his great rival lowered the curtain on the 27-year career this weekend
- Richard Johnson ended his incredible 27-year career as a jockey
- The 43-year-old’s four championships and 3,819 victories put him in the history book
- However, his career is often overshadowed by his great rival Sir Anthony McCoy
- McCoy greeted Johnson after retirement and insisted that they make each other stronger
Sir Anthony McCoy says the bridesmaids label so often pinned to his championship rival Richard Johnson was unfair when he paid tribute to his former colleague announcing his immediate retirement.
Johnson, 43, dropped the curtain for a 27-year career after six rides at Newton Abbot, and left the weighing room for the last time on Saturday with four championships to his credit. They all came after the record-breaking 20-time champion McCoy retired.
Johnson’s 3,819 wins are second only to McCoy and his 23 Cheltenham Festival winners include two Gold Cups – Looks Like Trouble (2000) and Native River (2018).
Richard Johnson rode for Newton Abbot for the last time, ending a brilliant 27-year career
Johnson’s longtime rival Sir Anthony McCoy has admitted that the 43-year-old gave him sleepless nights
But one of the most cited statistics about Johnson’s career is that he finished second to McCoy sixteen times in the jump jockeys championship.
McCoy said, “Richard was a little unlucky because I was riding for Martin Pipe, the most numerically dominant trainer ever in show jumping, so I had an advantage and then I had a huge advantage because I was riding for JP McManus because of his horse count.
Richard was against it and I was lucky that I fell into it and not him. It could have easily been turned around.
‘But don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel sorry for him. I thanked him for everything he did while racing, but not what he did for me.
Johnson’s wins lag behind McCoy, who defeated him 16 times for the championship
‘He tortured me. I had nightmares thinking about what he was doing or where he was going to ride. You read a lot of nonsense about sports psychology and control. It doesn’t stop you from looking at who to beat every day. In a way, you need it.
“I’m so lucky in my life to have Richard Johnson because we’ve made each other so much better. I really believe that. There was no room for comfort, that’s for sure. Winning was a must. ‘
Despite their intense rivalry, the pair remained friends. McCoy added, “Richard Johnson and I have never had a confrontation in our lives.
“You’d like him in the trenches with you. As a person, he has very few weaknesses. Every young jockey should strive to be like him, but few will achieve it. As a jump jockey, there are two ambulances that follow you in races. The reality was that Richard and I got into it more than anyone else.
McCoy believes that sipping rival Johnson has propelled him toward more success
“The more you compete, the more you win, the faster you get there, the realization that even though you compete against each other, you have to take care of each other.”
Fittingly, there was a McCoy connection to the last mountain of Johnson’s career, third-placed Brother Tedd in the newtonabbotracing.com Handicap Chase.
Johnson and brother Tedd won the Bet365 Handicap Hurdle at Sandown on April 29, 2015, when McCoy finished third at Box Office on the final stage of his career.
On Sunday, Johnson admitted that he would have bowed to a high level if Native River had won instead of finishing fourth in last month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup or if he had been successful in Newbury the previous Saturday.
It is appropriate for Brother Tedd to be trained by Johnson’s longtime ally Philip Hobbs. Together they reached high points with horses such as Rooster Booster, winner of the 2003 Champion Hurdle, and Flagship Uberalles, winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2002.
Johnson finished his career with four championship wins to his name amid 3,819 wins
Hobbs confirmed that patient student Tom O’Brien will advance to the number 1 position. Today he rides on the two Hobbs runners in Chepstow.
Johnson, whose 21 Grand National rides, including second place on What’s Up Boys (2002) and Balthazar King (2014), is a record, will spend time at the Herefordshire family farm with wife Fiona and kids Willow, Caspar and Percy. But he won’t turn his back on racing.
He said, “I’m definitely not going to be a trainer, but with breeding and my strong connections to a number of yards, I’ll definitely keep an eye out.”