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Four-time champion jump jockey Richard Johnson has announced his retirement with immediate effect.

The 43-year-old was in tears as he revealed his surprise decision after riding Brother Tedd into third place at Newton Abbot on Saturday.

“After nearly 30 years in the saddle, the time has come for me to retire,” he said.

Johnson enjoyed more than 3,500 victories in his career – only AP McCoy has ridden more winners in jump racing.

In a message to followers of the sport, he said: “Thank you for every cheer, every shout of encouragement, it’s given me enormous strength over the years. I am so very grateful to you all.”

Johnson finished runner-up 16 times to McCoy in the jockeys’ championship, but the pair enjoyed a strong friendship and rivalry.

“Sometimes those who challenge us the most teach us the best,” said 20-time champion McCoy on Twitter.

“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.”

More to follow.

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