The greatest feats of jockey sportsmanship ever

Features | 15th February 2017

Reflect on some of the greatest mid-race rescues and shows of admiration and decency as we examine the greatest moments of sportsmanship seen in our sport.

As many jockeys would tell you, racing is the only sport where you get followed by an ambulance. It can be a dangerous game for those who choose to get involved, so when they sense trouble, they instinctively look out for each other.


The will to win is what drives jockeys to do their jobs every day, but when you spend every day with the same faces in the Weighing Room, friendships take priority over winning.

That can most certainly be said about Danny Mullins. In this instance, Mullins – who is vying for position with fellow jockey Jody McGarvey – spots his mate is about to hit a spot of trouble and promptly pulls him back in to his saddle.

Remarkably, Mullins even manages to continue his progress to move up in to second place.

His colleague was obviously very appreciative of his efforts, uploading this to social media after the race.


This gracious act of sportsmanship happened in the 1981-1982 Jump Jockeys’ Championship. Francome decided not to race while arch rival Scudamore had broken his leg and this resulted in the two jockeys sharing the title level on 120 wins.

Although the seven-time champion gave the impression of being laid-back, he worked incredibly hard for his success, reaching 1,138 wins in his career. This was a record which was not beaten until 1989, ironically by Scudamore.

John Francome (


Last summer at Newton Abbott, Tom O’Brien in hot pursuit of Richard Johnson saw that the Champion Jockey looked like he was about to fall off after his horse, Free of Charge, who jumped wildly over the fence and left Johnson flailing.

O’Brien realised the situation and leant over to give Johnson a nudge and helped steady his rival back on course. Although Johnson eventually didn’t finish the race, O’Brien came third which shows he did receive some good karma after his act of sportsmanship.

These acts of sporting goodwill are even more impressive on the flat racing scene where the action is often unfolding at a much quicker rate.

Take this example from Australia where, as the horses burst out of the gates, a horse veers to its right and barges straight into jockey Libby Hopwood. With her rival almost certain to take a tumble as a result, Hopwood manages to react with lightning-quick speed to push her back in to place and continue with the race.


A fall is never great for any rider, but when Bryan Cooper and Robbie Power both fell at this hurdle at Gowran Park, only the reactions of Cooper prevented anything more severe from happening.

Power found himself with his legs caught in the stirrups of his horse Neverrushacon and as the horse galloped on, he threatened to drag Power along with him. However, Cooper spotted the danger and, after initially slipping, manged to grab the loose horse and free his friend.

Speaking afterwards, Power told the Racing Post: “It’s amazing how quickly you react when you’re in trouble. I knew I was stuck and I got a hold of the reins and was able to pull the horse back towards Bryan. Fair play to him, he reacted very quickly.”


In another era, Johnson would have been a multiple Champion Jockey in his own right. Before winning his maiden Stobart Jump Jockey Championship last year, Johnson had finished as runner-up to Sir AP McCoy 16 times.

In fact, Johnson sits second in the list of all-time winners, so surely he must resent Sir AP for debying him on all those occasions?

Not at all, having spent years travelling all over the country together for rides, the two were the best of friends.

“We know each other very well,” Richard said. We sit next to each other in the changing rooms most days of the year.” He was also questioned about whether he was secretly happy AP retired he jokingly said “Oh definitely!”

In return, McCoy heaped praise on Johnson saying that the rivalry was the reason why he achieved so much in racing.