Horse Racing - Hughes crowned champion of the Flat

After an extraordinary second half of the season, Richard Hughes won the first champion Flat jockey title of his career at Doncaster last weekend.

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Horse Racing - Hughes' heart matched by his desire
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Jockey Richard Hughes (PA)

The son of National Hunt trainer Dessie Hughes, Irish jockey Richard Hughes made a promising start to his career in the mid-1990s, riding a string of winners in Italy and impressing over the hurdles. Yet despite riding for trainers of the calibre of John Gosden, Andre Fabre and Christiane Head-Maarek, he was unable to make much headway.

His 2003 meeting with English trainer Richard Hannon would change his life and career however, with the jockey responding to the confidence his namesake had in him. In the next 10 years the Irish rider would win 13 Group One events, his association with Canford Cliffs helping to make him one of the leading jockeys on the English scene.

Blessed with a reputation for being kind and respectful with his mounts and coaxing the very best out of them, Hughes rebelled last year against the British Horseracing Association’s controversial rules on the use of whips, and was moved to resign after being given a 15-day ban. Highly respected by the racing world for his riding style, Hughes’s stance caused the BHA to relax their restrictions.

Never anything less than committed, Hughes has had a spectacular 2012, recovering from an indifferent start to the season to post his first Group 1 triumph of the year on The Fugue in August’s Nassau Stakes. Two more Group One wins followed, one of them the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on the Arc weekend at Longchamp.

He maintained his form in no uncertain style the very next week, equalling Frankie Dettori’s record of riding seven winners on the same day, while his sprint finish at the end of the season took his tally of UK Flat wins for the year to 143, earning him nearly €2.55m in prize money and clinching the champion jockey crown.

Fresh from overcoming his battle with alcoholism, the deserving Hughes now find himself at the top of the pile.

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