John was born in Swindon in 1952. He was the son of a railway fireman and his family had never had any association with horses. But after a ride on a donkey aged six, John developed a strong bond with horses, and it wasn't long before he had his own pony which he rode with his friends in  the happiest moments of his childhood.

His parents, although from humble beginnings in a council house, tried their best to provide the funds for John to pursue his career as a jockey. John initially made his mark on the equestrian world as a member of British show-jumping team that won the European Championship.

Making the move to National Hunt proved to be no problem and he struck up a famous partnership with trainer Fred Winter. He won the National Hunt jockeys championship seven times in total (from 1975 onwards) and over the course of his racing career had 1138 wins. He retired in 1985.

After retiring he became a trainer for 18 months and, later on, moved into broadcasting and writing. John's autobiography 'Born Lucky' was published in 1985 and this was followed in 1988 by 'Twice Lucky'. A noted after dinner speaker and keen golfer, John was awarded an MBE in 1986 for services to racing.

The former jockey is now one of the most reputable horse racing commentators and works for Channel 4 Racing. He works regularly in the media and has had a column in the Sun newspaper which provides racing tips and analysis.

Francome has gone on to become one of the leading authors on horse racing and a number of his highly-regarded books have featured on bestseller lists.