Who was champion jockey was before Sir Anthony McCoy?

In recent years, the British Jump Jockeys’ Championship has been dominated by Richard Johnson, who was Champion Jockey in 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 and is currently 22 winners ahead of his nearest rival, Harry Skelton, with less than two weeks of the 2018/19 National Hunt season remaining. However, prior to 2015/16, Johnson had to play ‘second fiddle’ to Sir Anthony McCoy, who was Champion Jockey for 20 consecutive years between 1995/96 and 2014/15 or, in other words, every year as a full licensed professional jockey. All told, McCoy rode 4,384 winners in an extraordinary career, the likes of which National Hunt racing may see again.

However, there was a time, albeit a few years ago, when McCoy had yet to win his first Jockeys’ Championship and Richard Dunwoody was Champion Jockey three years running in1992/93, 1993/94 and 1994/95. Indeed, Dunwoody rode 1,699 winners, making him, at the time, the most successful jump jockey in history, before his career was cut short by a recurring injury at the age of 35.

How many winners did Steve Smith-Eccles ride at the Cheltenham Festival?

Former National Hunt jockey Steve Smith-Eccles retired from race riding in 1994 and is best remembered for winning the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival three years running on See You Then, trained by Nicky Henderson, in 1985, 1986 and 1987. However, seven years prior to winning the two-mile championship for the first time, Smith-Eccles had already recorded his first victory at the Cheltenham Festival, when landing the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase aboard Sweet Joe, trained by Harry Thomson ‘Tom’ Jones, in 1978.

Sweet Joe suffered a career-ending injury early in the 1978/79 season, but aside from a notable hat-trick in the Champion Hurdle, Smith-Eccles also won the Triumph Hurdle twice, in 1985 and 1987, the Grand Annual Chase in 1985 and the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 1986, for a career total of eight winners at the Cheltenham Festival. Six of those eight winners – First Bout (1985), See You Then (1985, 1986 and 1987) River Ceiriog (1986) and Alone Success (1987) – were trained by Nicky Henderson, at whom Smith-Eccles once threw a punch during an argument, while Alan Jarvis rowed in with Kathies Lad (1985). Indeed, the three winners Smith-Eccles rode at the 1985 Cheltenham Festival were sufficient to win him the leading jockey award for the one and only time.

Which was Harry Skelton’s first Cheltenham Festival winner?

Harry Skelton is the younger son of Olympic gold medal winning showjumper Nick Skelton and stable jockey to his older brother, Dan, at Lodge Hill, near Alcester, Warwickshire in the West Midlands. In 2018/19, Skelton Jnr. enjoyed far and away his most successful season so far, with 178 winners – including his first Grade One winner, Roksana, in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival – and over £2 million in prize money.

In the curtailed 2019/20 campaign, his seasonal tally fell to 97 winners, but nonetheless included two more Grade One winners, Allmankind in the Coral Final Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow and Politologue, trained by Paul Nicholls, in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Indeed, Skelton was named Jockey of the Month for March, 2019 as a result of his victory on the latter.

However, Skelton had recorded his first winner at the Cheltenham Festival three years earlier, courtesy of Superb Story, trained by his brother, in the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle in 2016. Sent off at 8/1 third-favourite, behind 7/1 joint-favourites Great Fields and Wait For Me, the five-year-old could be called the winner some way from home and ran on strongly in the closing stages to beat Fethard Player by two-and-a-half lengths; in so doing, he also became a first Cheltenham Festival winner for Dan Skelton.

How many times was Richard Hughes Champion Jockey?

Nowadays, Richard Hughes is a respected trainer in Upper Lambourn, Berkshire, where he is following in the footsteps of his late father, Dessie, who was a much-admired jockey-turned-trainer.

However, prior to August, 2015, when he made an unexpectedly early exit from the saddle, at the age of 42, immediately after Glorious Goodwood, he had been one of the most successful jockeys for two decades. Indeed, when he finally called time on his 27-year riding career, Hughes had been Champion Jockey for the past three seasons, with 172, 208 and 161 winners in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Unusually tall for a Flat jockey, at 5′ 10″, Hughes first moved to Britain in 1994 and rode his first Group One winner, Posidonas, trained by Paul Cole, in the Gran Premio D’italia at San Siro in September, 1995. In 2000, Hughes rode over a hundred winners in a season for the first time and, the following year, became the retained jockey to Prince Khalid Abdullah, owner of Juddmonte Farms. That association, which was to last until 2007 and yield Hughes’ first and second Group One winners, courtesy of Cartier Champion Sprinter Oasis Dream, trained by John Gosden, who completed a notable Darley July Cup – Nunthorpe Stakes double in 2003. Hughes also rode regularly for his father-in-law Richard Hannon Snr. and, following the retirement of the four-time Champion Trainer in 2013, his brother-in-law Richard Hannon Jnr..

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