Philip Hobbs has paid tribute to Richard Johnson after the four-times champion jockey announced his retirement on Saturday evening.
Johnson, who finished second to his friend and rival Sir Anthony McCoy a further 17 times in the championship, called it a day at Newton Abbot after finishing third on Brother Tedd.
Hobbs and Johnson were one of the most successful partnerships in National Hunt history enjoying countless big-race wins together, including a Champion Hurdle with Rooster Booster and a Champion Chase through Flagship Uberalles.
“He’s been a part of my life for a long time,” Hobbs told At The Races.
“He’s been an amazing role model. You could never get anybody better for future jockeys to see what they need to do as far as the riding side, how to conduct yourself and everything that is needed to be a good jockey.
“It was only the last few days (that I had an inkling Johnson may retire). Obviously it had to happen someday, but at least he’s sound and in one piece, it’s a good time to get out.
“There is absolutely no side to him whatsoever, you never had an issue with him and that is phenomenal really.
“There’s been once or twice he hasn’t ridden a horse that I thought he should have done and that would be it.”
Hobbs also hailed Johnson’s dedication to his job.
He added: “His work ethic shone through. A few years ago, just before Cheltenham, he had to be at Kempton to ride work so probably left home about 4am, went to Kempton, then went to Catterick and rode a winner. He then had to get back for a Cheltenham preview, and went home at 2am.
“He didn’t have to come to us the next morning, but he did, leaving at 4am again, to school horses before he went racing. Nothing was ever too much trouble.
“He’d be trying his hardest on all the horses all the time, and that is very much appreciated by everyone he rides for.
“It’s a shame he couldn’t go out on a winner, but that is the way it goes.”
Reflecting on their biggest days, he said: “I suppose Rooster Booster winning the Champion Hurdle was our best day. Flagship Uberalles in the Champion Chase too, Captain Chris in the Arkle – there were plenty of other Cheltenham winners too.
“It’s just the day-to-day basis that is important. If he had one ride at Perth, he’d drive there and back without any issue.
“He just wanted to ride as many winners as he could and be champion jockey. Everyone gets on well with him and he’s been a great asset to us.”