Robert “Choc” Thornton is one of the country’s leading National Hunt jockeys, who has made his name by putting in numerous excellent performances at the Cheltenham Festival. He was the leading English jockey at the 2005 and 2006 Cheltenham festivals, and in 2007 things got even better when he won the Top Jockey Title with 4 winners, three of them who were trained by his boss Alan King of Barbury Castle stables in Wroughton.
Thornton comes from a racing family, with his brother Andrew also being a famous National Hunt jockey. He began competing full time in the 1996/97 season, achieving 71 wins during his first season. He has consistently appeared in the top 10 of the British Jumps Jockey Championship throughout his career, and in 2007 he broke the 100-winner barrier for the first time, winning 105 of his 597 races.
His best achievements have all been linked to the Cheltenham Festival, where he has won the World Hurdle twice, the Champion Hurdle, and the Triumph Hurdle. He has also won some of the most esteemed races of the Festival – the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Voy Por Ustedes and the Arkle Challenge Trophy, both in 2007.
2008 saw Thornton ride D’Argent in the Grand National, and it was speculated that they would do well, seeings as both horse and jockey were both at the top of their game, but unfortunately, D’Argent fell at Fence 27. It is looking likely that the 2010 National will see Thornton riding Alan Kings’ Tarotino, a seven year old who looks like he could go the distance, having completed a hat-trick on his last start in a handicap chase at Bangor on May 1 by 18 lengths from Thunder Rock, following victories in novice chases at Doncaster and Kempton.