Everyone knows & loves JR for his straight talking and charming character.
He is also a very entertaining dinner guest.
In August 1997, he had an audience in Spain captivated as he described "The Race of the Century" where riding Swain, they beat Pilsudski, Helissio & Singspiel in Ascot's King George.
John also has a very good racing brain.
So well can he describe the undulations & particularities of any racecourse that you would think he had cut the grass there every week !
In the saddle, he was the ultimate professional & tactician.
Many remember his Swain victory, the ride on Minstrella in the 1987 Cheveley Park Stakes or the way he hemmed in Machiavellian in the 1990 Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Much of his success could also be put down to the excellent teamwork of his agent, Peter Shoemark.
Originally from Ulster, Ireland, John served his apprenticeship there for a year with Leslie Crawford before spending 5 years with Verley Bewicke in England in the early 1970's.
Then for Fulke Johnson-Houghton, he won the 1978 King George & QEII Diamond Stakes with Ile de Bourbon.
John's first Classic victory came riding On the House in the 1982 1,000 Guineas for Harry Wragg.
John freelanced for a year in the mid 1980's before joining Charlie Nelson.
In 1987, he gained two more big wins on Sir Harry Lewis in the Irish Derby for Barry Hills and the Italian Oaks on Lady Bentley for Lester Piggott.
By now, John had established some very good contacts riding abroad where he always had a very loyal following.
So it was no surprise that he won the 1988 Arc on Tony Bin for an Italian owner
In the same year he started the first of three seasons at Ballydoyle, Ireland, as stable jockey for the Robert Sangster/Vincent O'Brien combination.
Then, for an American owner this time, he won the 1992 Derby on Dr.Devious, his biggest win to date.
John maintained the link with Sangster until the end of 1998 and rode regularily for his trainer, Peter Chapple-Hyam, in England.
Notable Sangster-owned horses he won with included Royal Academy, Las Meninas (pictured below), Turtle Island & Victory Note.
From, 1997, John rode to great effect for Godolphin, winning on Swain, Halling, Medaaly and a fourth UK Classic on Nedawi in the 1998 St.Leger.
In April 1999, John broke a leg in a strange fall whereby his stirrup iron broke. He returned to action in late July of that year.
For 2000, John was appointed stable jockey for Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum.
However, he decided not to renew the committment for 2001 as it was limiting the number of rides and winning opportunities he was getting.
John rode as a freelance in 2001 and won the German Derby on Boreal.
Career wins to date: 1,937 in the UK when he retired in the UK in late September 2001. John also rode 42 winners from 205 rides in Spain between 1979-1999.
For the future, John will be managing the string of horses belonging to English owner, Matt Dawson.
In 2002, John has also taken up a pundit role with the newly formed English racing channel, AtTheRaces. He has settled in well providing accurate and valuable insight into the UK racing scene.
No doubt we will also be seeing him busying himself with other activities as well.
- 1989--84 + 31 Ireland
- 1999--27 (injured)
- 2001--37 and retired