FOUR-TIME champion jockey Richard 'Dicky' Johnson has retired from racing with immediate effect.
Only the legendary AP McCoy has ridden more winners in the UK than the 43-year-old.
The rider made the shock announcement after he finished third aboard Brother Tedd at Newton Abbot.
Fighting back the tears, he made the call live on At The Races and said: "That's it for me.
"Look I've had an amazing time, but it's the right time for me to stop now."
Johnson won the top jockey title for four consecutive years from 2016 and won a memorable Gold Cup with Native River in 2018 at the Cheltenham Festival, 18 years after he struck in the same race with Looks Like Trouble.
During his career he landed 43 Grade 1 wins and 23 victories at the Cheltenham Festival.
In a longer statement, Johnson said: "After nearly 30 years in the saddle, the time has come for me to retire.
"I have been so extraordinarily lucky to have ridden so many wonderful horses, and for so many incredible trainers and owners.
Age – 43
First winner – Rusty Bridge, Hereford, 1994
Last winner – Camprond, Taunton, 2021
Career wins – 3,824
Cheltenham Festival wins – 23
Grade 1 wins – 43
Famous horses – Looks Like Trouble, Anzum, Rooster Booster, Flagship Uberalles, Flordia Pearl, Captan Chris, Menorah, Native River, Defi Du Seuil
"It was particularly important to me to finish on one for Philip and Sarah Hobbs who, like Henry Daly, have supported me for over 20 years. I’ll never be able to articulate what their loyalty has meant to me.
"There are so many people to thank who have been part of my journey. Without ‘the Duke’ and Dinah Nicholson and their remarkable staff, I'd never have got that first leg up.
"Noel Chance, Peter Bowen and Milton Bradley, thank you for putting your trust in me when I was starting out. Those were the days that shaped my career, with so many people who remain lifelong friends.
"To my wonderful family, thank you so much. Mum, Dad and my brother Nick who have always been by my side. Finally, to my wife Fiona and amazing children Willow, Caspar and Percy. Without you nothing would have been possible."
Johnson was forced to wait in the wings as AP McCoy dominated the sport through the early 2000s and their great rivalry in the jockeys championship thrilled punters for season after season.
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McCoy was one of the first to pay tribute and said: "Sometimes those who challenge us the most teach us the best.
"You did both to me for over 20 years I will be forever grateful to you thanks buddy.
"When you go home tonight look in the mirror you’ll see what a champion looks like. Enjoy your retirement."
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