'Great Feeling' As Hughes Crowned Champion

Sat 10th Nov 2012, 16:43

Richard Hughes
©Healy Racing Photos
Richard Hughes was officially crowned champion Flat jockey for 2012 in a champagne-splashed ceremony at Doncaster.

Achieving a life-long ambition, Hughes had the title in safe-keeping for some weeks after building up an unassailable lead over Silvestre de Sousa and third-placed William Buick.

Ryan Moore was fourth in an injury-hit campaign, with Paul Hanagan, winner for the last two years, having to settle for fifth place this time in a year in which he became retained rider to Hamdan Al Maktoum.

Hughes was accompanied by his son, Harvey, to the podium at Doncaster to receive his trophy, after which the champagne flowed and he was hoisted on the shoulders of his weighing-room colleagues.

Hughes, who also had his wife, Lizzie, father and top trainer Dessie Hughes, as well as his mother, Eileen, in attendance, said: "It's a great feeling, much better than being runner-up, especially two years ago (after a hard-fought battle with Hanagan that went to the last day).

"I'd have walked here today if I'd had to. You only get out of this game what you put in - I don't think I have been lucky, I think I have earned it.

"I worked really hard in September and it paid off. I didn't want to be going here there and everywhere in October."

A reliable stream of winners from Richard Hannon consistently boosted Hughes on the way to the top with the likes of multiple winners Libranno, Havana Gold and Toronado amongst others contributing to his final tally of 172 winners, with De Sousa on 131.

Hughes even managed to transcend to the back pages of the papers when famously winning seven out of eight races at Windsor last month at odds in excess of 10,000-1.

The first to come close to matching Frankie Dettori's feat of seven from seven back in 1996, Hughes' super septet comprised of Pivotal Mome, East Texas Red, Embankment, Magic Secret, Links Drive Lady, Duke of Clarence and Mama Quilla.

The latter was due to be ridden by Moore, whose near three-month absence from the saddle due to a broken wrist sustained in a fall at Warwick helped ease the way for Hughes, who himself had sat out the first month of the season through a riding ban incurred in India.

Hughes said: "I had 100 winners for Richard alone, which shows how good a trainer he is.

"If I had to single out one day it would have to be at Windsor when I had those seven winners. I had the title tied up by then. I'll have a small bit of a break and a holiday.

"I won't hand it (the title) over too easy, it's a privilege to be champion and I'll go again. I'll see how I am going by (Glorious) Goodwood."

A proud Dessie Hughes said: "I never thought it would happen, but it has at last. He's worked really hard for it and he's finally done it."

Amy Ryan broke new ground as she became the first female rider to win the champion apprentice title outright, something not even Hayley Turner managed.

Her nearest rival, Darren Egan, saw his challenge at a premature end when breaking his collarbone in a fall at Wolverhampton in October.

After starting the year with the aim of riding the 95 career winners which negate her claim, Ryan accomplished that in May before embarking on a full-blooded chase of the young riders' competition.

Ryan, clearly emotional when receiving her trophy, said: "The apprentice title was at the back of mind as it was my last season to go for it, but I never imagined I'd be in this position.

"I've ridden some good horses and been very lucky, it's nice to ride on the big days. Riding on the big days give you a buzz, and to get a win is a bonus."

For the first time this year, there was also a separate prize awarded for the champion lady rider, judged on a winners-to-runners ratio, and won by Turner.

John Gosden landed a first trainers' title with Ghurair's Tattersalls Million win swelling the coffers nicely after the likes of Nathaniel, The Fugue, Thought Worthy and Fallen For You contributed some sizeable chunks of prize money.

Frankel's exploits looked like giving Khalid Abdullah another owners' title only for Godolphin to swoop and grab the prize in the dying days.

St Leger winner Encke contributed the lion's share of their winning total but Group One winners Colour Vision, Dawn Approach and Certify, as well as Ebor hero Willing Foe, saw Sheikh Mohammed's operation reclaim the title.

Ned Buntline shoots to prominence

Trainer Noel Meade completed a double at Naas today when his Ned Buntline landed a huge short-priced gamble to impressively win the concluding Go Racing In Kildare Membership 2013 Bumper.