Johnny Haine won 9 Cheltenham Festival races between 1963 and 1973 with his biggest win coming in the 1966 Champion Hurdle on the Bob Turnell trained Salmon Spray. He was acknowledged as the most stylish rider of his time with Brough Scott commenting in a Horse and Hound piece in 2011:
What should come first – how good the rider looks or how well the horse is going? Of course it should be the latter but in all disciplines but most especially in racing "the outward visible sign" of jockeyship, to sacrilegiously borrow a religious term at Christmas time, is too often put in front of "the inward spiritual grace" of horsemanship.
It always has and it is getting worse. In my pre replay, pre ATR and RUK day (40 years ago god help me), all we had was pictures in the Horse and Hound and in the newspaper. Now every aspiring rider also gorges on the internet and berates themselves like some tortured anorexic that they don't ride as short, and poised and "stylish" as their heroes. Back then we just had to look at our reflection as we walked, crouched over the mane, past cottage windows. Then we dreamed of being Johnny Haine.
Johnny Haine who died far too young in 1998, was the artist of his era. He brought forward-balanced, short-stirrup flat race poise to the longer-leathered more upright jumping stance. On Salmon Spray in the 1966 Champion Hurdle he made Pat Taafe and Flyingbolt look like a policeman on a plough horse, but even more amazing to those of us who battled alongside him, he rode with his toe in the iron and kept so forward during the jump that he didn't need to slip his reins. He even did it round Aintree on Charter Flight in The Topham. We worshipped him.
But we shouldn't have. For Johnny was indeed an artist, a one off. He did things his own way and if horses did not run for it, too bad. But he could do it because he had freakish balance and understanding. To imitate him was to lock yourself into your own inadequacy, it was absolutely putting how you looked in front of how best to ride.
There is a short clip of that 1966 Champion Hurdle ( thanks to mimbrenos on youtube) in the middle section of this video:
It should be pointed out that Flying Bolt won the Champion Chase the day before losing out to Salmon Spray !
Johnny Haine Cheltenham Festival Wins (9)
Supreme Novices Div 2
Supreme Novices Div 1
Harry Thomson Jones
Supreme Novices Div 2
Mildmay of Flete
The odds for Leading Rider at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival are tabled below: