Davy Russell

In recent seasons, David Niall ‘Davy’ Russell has become a household name on both sides of the Irish Sea, thanks, in large part, to his association with Tiger Roll, who won the Grand National in both 2018 and 2019. However, Russell, who turns 40 in 2019, was hardly an oversight sensation. He first won the National at his fourteenth attempt but, by that stage, he had already won the Irish jump jockeys’ championship twice, in 2011/12 and 2012/13 – and would win it again in 2017/18, two weeks after his National triumph – and ridden 22 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, including Lord Windermere in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2014.


A native of Co. Cork in southwest Ireland, Russell was recruited, from the amateur ranks, to join Wexford-born trainer Ferdy Murphy, based in West Witton, North Yorkshire in 2002. He rode his first winner as a professional on Inn Antique, trained by Murphy, at Sedgefield in November that year. However, despite no little success in Britain, including winning the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock Park and finishing second to Best Mate in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Truckers Tavern, Russell returned to Ireland just over a year later.


Russell subsequently rode for Co. Tipperary trainer Edward O’Grady and as a freelance jockey, during which time he rode his first Cheltenham Festival winner, Native Jack, in the Glenfarclas Country Chase in 2006. In September, 2007, Russell became stable jockey to Gigginstown House Stud and, although that position lasted only until December, 2013, rode at least one winner at the Cheltenham Festival – including Tiger Roll, having just his third start, in the Triumph Hurdle in 2014 – up to, and including, 2018. Indeed, in 2018, Russell rode four winners at the Cheltenham Festival, including a 377/1 treble on the penultimate day, to edge out compatriot Jack Hughes and win the Holland Leading Jockey Award for the first time.

Richard Johnson

On the penultimate day of the 2018/19 National Hunt season, Richard Johnson rode Load Up Time, trained by Gordon Elliot, to victory at Perth to reach two hundred winners in a season for just the second time in his career. Nevertheless, his seasonal total was more than enough to win the Stobart Jump Jockeys’ Championship for the fourth consecutive year.


After starting his riding career in the point-to-point field, under the guidance of the late David ‘Duke’ Nicholson – who would provide his first Cheltenham Festival winner, Anzum, in the Stayers’ Hurdle in 1999 – Johnson became Champion Conditional Jockey in 1995/96. Thereafter, every season for the next two decades he set off in determined, but ultimately fruitless, pursuit of Sir Anthony McCoy in his quest for his first jockeys’ title. Indeed, Johnson was runner-up in the jockeys’ championship sixteen times, before finally emerging from the shadow of his arch rival – who retired at the end of the 2014/15 season – to win become Champion Jockey in 2015/16, with a career-best total of 235 winners.


In 2016/17 and 2017/18, fell just short of a double century of winners, with a seasonal tally of 176 and 189 winners, respectively. Nevertheless, he enjoyed notable victories in the Hennessy Gold Cup, Welsh National and Cheltenham Gold Cup with Native River, trained by Colin Tizzard, and the Triumph Hurdle with Defi Du Seul, trained by Nicky Henderson. Indeed, at the Cheltenham Festival, Johnson is the fourth most successful jockey of all time and, following the retirement of Ruby Walsh, is one of just two jockeys still riding to have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and Stayers’ Hurdle. In 2018/19, he rode over a hundred winners for the twenty-third season in a row.


For all his success, Johnson has a less-than-enviable record in the Grand National. Having missed the world famous steeplechase in 2017 and 2018 – in anticipation of a horse with a ‘good chance’ – he took his record twenty-first ride on Rock The Kasbah, trained by Philip Hobbs, in the 2019 renewal. Sadly, Rock The Kasbah was always behind and fell at the first open ditch on the second circuit, leaving Johnson with a record of two second places – on What’s Up Boys in 2002 and Balthazar King in 2014 – and 15 non-completions from 21 rides.

Javier Castellano

Venezuela-born Javier Castellano won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, making him one of just two jockeys to win four consecutive Eclipse Awards and, in 2017, was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Castellano, 41, first moved to the United States in June, 1997, and rode his first winner stateside, Phone Man, at Calder Race Course, now Gulfstream Park West, in Florida the following month. However, over two decades later, Castellano is riding at the top of his form and is arguably the best jockey in North America, if not the world.


Castellano comes from good racing stock. His late father, Abel, who was murdered during a robbery attempt in Venezuela in 2000, his uncle and his younger brother, Abel Jr., were all jockeys and Abel Jr. is now a trainer in Maryland after a riding career cut short by concussion in December, 2015.


Having relocated from Florida to the higher-profile New York State circuit in 2001, Castellano first found fame as the jockey of Ghostzapper, trained by Robert Frankel, who was unbeaten in four starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic, in his four-year-old season in 2004 and was subsequently named Eclipse Horse of the Year. Two years later, in 2006, Castellano recorded his first ‘Triple Crown’ win on Bernardini, trained by Thomas Albertrani, in the Preakness Stakes, but his victory was overshadowed by the hind leg fracture suffered by the Kentucky Derby winner, Barbaro, which led to the end of his racing career and, ultimately, to his demise.


It would be another eleven years before Castellano won his second Triple Crown race, the Preakness Stakes again, in 2017, on Cloud Computing, trained by Chad Brown. The Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes remain glaring omissions on his CV but, even so, at the time of his induction to the Hall of Fame, had ridden 4,644 winners and earned $276 million in prize money. In the autumn of 2018, Castellano reached the milestone of 5,000 winners and, shortly afterwards, recorded his ninth and tenth Breeders’ Cup wins, on Bulletin in the Juvenile Turf Sprint and City Of Light in the Dirt Mile.

Ryan Moore

Ryan Moore is part of a racing dynasty founded by his late grandfather, Charlie, a used-car salesman who became a trainer, and now headed by his father, Gary, a trainer and former jump jockey. His brothers, Jamie and Joshua, are both current jump jockeys and his sister, Hayley, was a leading amateur rider before turning her hand to television presenting, on the Sky Sports Racing TV channel.


In 2001, at the age of 18, Moore was apprenticed to trainer Richard Hannon Snr. in Marlborough, Wiltshire. With the support of the man who would become, at the time of his retirement in November, 2013, the most prolific trainer in the history of British horse racing, Moore became Champion Apprentice in 2003, with 52 winners, and Champion Jockey in 2006, with 182 winners. Three months on the sidelines with a broken wrist in 2007 put paid to any further jockeys’ title aspirations, at least temporarily, but at the end of the year Moore was appointed stable jockey to Sir Michael Stoute in Newmarket, Suffolk.


Under the auspices of the ten-time Champion Trainer, Moore became Champion Jockey again in 2008, and in 2009, and the following season won his first British Classics. In fact, that year he completed the Derby – Oaks double on Workforce, trained by Stoute, and Snow Fairy, trained by Ed Dunlop. Further Classic success followed, in the 1,000 Guineas, on Homecoming Queen, in 2012 and the Derby, on Ruler Of The World, in 2013. Both those winners were trained by Aidan O’Brien and, in April, 2015, it was announced that Moore would ride the ‘main horses’ for Ballydoyle. Since that appointment, Moore has ridden six more British Classic winners, all bar one for Aidan O’Brien.


A softly spoken, perhaps even reticent, individual, Moore is nonetheless technically excellent, tactically astute and, arguably, one of the best, if not the best, jockeys in the world. He is one of just four British-based jockeys still riding to feature in the all-time top twenty, but his horsemanship, courage and timing have been seen throughout the racing world, including Europe, North America and the Far East.