Born in Swindon, Wiltshire, the son of a railway fireman, his family had no connection with the horse racing world.
John first rode a pony called Black Beauty at the age of six.
His first riding successes came as a show jumper, and was a member of the team that won the European Junior Show Jumping Championship for Great Britain.
Still regarded by many as National Hunt racing’s greatest horseman, having ridden 1,138 winners and won the National Hunt Jockeys’ / Flat / Hurdles Championship seven times.
After retiring, Francome was awarded the MBE in 1986 for services to racing.
One of John’s most successful horses was Burrough Hill Lad, trained by Jenny Pitman.
John took victories in the Welsh Grand National, Hennessy Gold Cup and King George VI Chase.
At the 1984 Gold Cup, John could not ride Burrough Hill Lad due to his retainer with Winter, and finished second with Brown Chamberlin – a horse he had won both the Sun Alliance Chase and Hennessy Gold Cup on.
Alongside riding for Pitman, John had success riding for Michael Dickinson, successes on Wayward Lad in the 1982 King George VI Chase and also on Silver Buck, Bregawn and Flatterer.
Whilst many top successes came in Chases, John had success over hurdles with Sea Pigeon winning the 1981 Champion Hurdle.
During the 1982 season, John stopped riding once he drew level with competitor, Peter Scudamore, in the Jump Jockeys Championship as Scudamore was injured.
The two shared the title.
Johnbroke Stan Mellor’s record of 1035 wins on Don’t Touch at Fontwell in May 1984.
In 1985, John retired and had ridden 1,138 winners over jumps in Britain and a total of seven British Champion Jump Jockey Titles.
The John Francome Novices’ Chase at Newbury was named after him in 2017.
He was a trainer for eighteen months before becoming a TV presenter for Channel 4’s horse racing broadcasts.
John Francome quickly became established as a leading, reputable and respected horse racing commentator.
His electrifying racing thrillers have also won him legions of fans and his interest in The Injured Jockeys Fund, which was founded in 1964 following the devastating accidents to Tim Brookshaw, and then Paddy Farrell in the 1964 Grand National.
In 1986, John published his first fictional novel Eavesdropper.
He went on to write a further 24 books.
His most recent novel was Storm Rider published in 2010.
His autobiography Born Lucky was published in 1985.
John built and owns Beechdown Farm in Lambourn, a stableyard and training facility that can house 96 horses.
Clive Cox is currently the resident racing trainer.