Jason Maguire

Jason Maguire  Nowadays, Jason Maguire is enjoying a second career as racing manager for owners Paul and Clare Rooney, for whom he rode as first-choice jockey during his highly successful National Hunt career. His riding career was brought to a premature end by two bad falls.


On the first occasion, at Stratford, on the eve of the 2014 Cheltenham Festival, he was unseated at the second flight in a handicap hurdle and kicked in the abdomen by another horse, leaving him with a fractured sternum and internal bleeding, which resulted in having part of his liver removed while in an induced coma. He returned to race riding six months later, but another fall, at Musselburgh in February, 2015, required surgery on slipped discs in his back and led to another lengthy recovery period. Finally, in May, 2016, he bowed to the inevitable and called time on his riding career at the age of 36.


As a jockey, Jason Maguire will probably always be best remembered for winning the 2011 Grand National on Ballabriggs, trained by Donald McCain Jr., son of Donald “Ginger” McCain, who won the Aintree marathon three times with Red Rum in 1973, 1974 and 1977 and again with Amberleigh House. However, Maguire rode his first winner, Search For Peace, in a conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle at Cheltenham in September, 1999, and thereafter spent fruitful spells as stable jockey to Tom George and Donald McCain Jr..


All in all, he rode over 1,000 winners, including five at the Cheltenham Festival. His first Festival win came aboard the Polish-bred Galileo – not to be confused with the 2001 Derby winner of the same name – in the 2002 Royal & SunAlliance Novices’ Hurdle. Maguire fondly recalled the victory, saying, “I was obviously shocked that he won it, but you never forget your first Festival winner, it was what I had been dreaming of doing since I was a kid.”

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Tom O’Brien

Tom O’Brien  Tom O’Brien is known as one of the more popular Irish jockeys in the horse racing scene. The 30-year-old has tried his hand at a bunch of things in the sport, with varying degrees of success. His current staple is National Hunt Racing. When O’Brien started out, all his races were for Shay Slevin. However, he soon moved up the rung, but not before putting in some shift for his uncle Aidan O’Brien. As a winner, O’Brien is probably not one of the conspicuous ones out there, but he did ride extremely popular horses such as the revered Rock of Gilbraltar and High Chapparal.

At the start of O’Brien’s career, he always craved for plenty of rides and lots of winners. Unfortunately, this does not happen too much in Ireland, which is why he made the choice to move to England 13 years ago. It wasn’t a bad decision either; here, he would get all the exposure he wanted and grab the opportunity to shine alongside some of the top stars in the game. The ultimate play was to make it to the top and keep his career soaring. At the moment, the Irish jockey is known to work with Peter Bowen and Phillip Hobbs.

O’Brien at the races

Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Grade 3 was the first to fall, a feat the jockey achieved while riding Silk Affair in 2009. 2013 was a great year too, where O’Brien grabbed the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase (Grade 3) with all the honours going to Chance Du Roy. 2017 hasn’t been bad at all either, with the Irishman already on two major wins and oh.

O’Brien’s pay dirt doesn’t look half bad, with some big money pay offs popping up now and then. For instance, Coral Welsh National (Handicap Chase) Grade 3(2009) brought home £57,010. Betfred Becher Handicap Chase (Grade 3) grossed £84,405 in December 2013. Probably best to invest that wad, wouldn’t you say?


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John Francome

John Francome  John Francome was a successful national hunt jockey, who has now transitioned into a popular racing presenter. Born in Decmber 1952 in Wiltshire, Francome is one of those who found racing ‘the hard way’. There was no line of jockeys, trainers or owners in his family, it was a case of finding his own way through luck as much as anything else – because he didn’t have an instant interest in racing, it was more about making ends meet.



“I’d done a bit of work in a car repair factory, but he advertised for stable lads and I went along. If it hadn’t worked out I’d have gone back to working on cars or a career in building. It was just that Lambourn was close to where I lived in Swindon, so off I went at 16. I’d have struggled to name a jockey, I just wasn’t interested. ” recalled Francome earlier this year.


Starting out as an apprentice for Fred Winter, it was quickly clear that Francome had an aptitude for the sport of horse racing. This quickly led to him becoming one of the most successful national hunt jockeys there ever was (even though a Grand National win remained sadly elusive for him). Memorable wins include a Cheltenham Gold Cup victory in 1978 on  the heavily backed Midnight Court. In total he racked up 1138 wins over his career and was Champion Jockey on a multitude of occasions.


Following his successeful career in racing, Francombe went on to present for Channel 4. This enabled him to keep in the mix and a part of something that played such an important part of his life for so long. Now also an author, Francome was awarded an MBE in the mid 80s, which goes to show how respected he is in the sport. Newbury racecourse even named a race after him last year – the John Francome Novices’ Chase.

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Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson  Richard Johnson, born in Hereford in 1977, is a younger jockey than most I’ve covered of late, and so for some his achievements are still flesh in their thoughts. The National Hunt jockey came fromw hat you could term a ‘racing family’. His father was a jockey, and his Mother, Sue Johnson is a well known horse trainer in her own right. Success for Johnson started young, as racing appears to fits him like a glove.

At age 18 he was Champion Conditional Jockey and this effectively set the tone for the rest of his successful career which still continues today.


Some of the stand out wins so far in his career include a 1999 win in the Cheltenham Festival’s Stayers Hurdle aboard Anzum. Further success at Cheltenham were a Cheltenham Gold Cup win the following year and a win in the Queen Mother Champion Chase two years later. There was also success in the Champion Hurdle. Richard Johnson is not shy of royal connections having spend 5 years in a relationship with Zara Phillips over a decade ago.


Success at the Cheltenham Festival can be contrasted against a rather unique record in the Grand National. I say unique because while Johnson has riden in the National 20 times in total, which is a record, he also has the record for the most rides in the Grand National without a winner. His best result is second place, experienced twice, once upon What’s Up Boy’s in 2002, and again in 2014 on Balthazar King. I’m sure he doesn’t dwell on this too much though, as perspective is granted by the fact that Johnson by early 2016 had riden a staggering 3000 winners. It’s no surpise then that Richard Johnson has been named Champion Jockey 16 times in his career so far.


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