Born in Swindon in 1952, John first represented Great Britain in the European Championships in 1969 where he won the Gold Medal. He left school the same year and worked as a panel beater in Swindon before joining Fred Winter as an apprentice jockey. His first ride was Multigrey. In 1972 he took over as first jockey from Richard Pitman.
John was Champion Jockey in 1975/76, 78/79, 80/81, 81/82, 82/83, 83/84 and 84/85. He was the 1000th winner Observe Worcester (1984) and 1138th and final winner of the Gamblers Cup, Huntingdon (1985). The best horses he has ridden include Sea Pigeon, Brown Chamberlain and Burrough Hill Lad. John introduced the body protector for jockeys in 1979.
John retired from horse racing in 1985. He spent 18 months as a trainer and then started working as a commentator for Channel Four. He wrote his first book "Born Lucky", an autobiography, in 1985 and has since written 12 novels. His hobbies include football, tennis and music.