Feeling grand: Brian Hughes already up for his next thousand winners

Sun 6 Jan 2019

Brian Hughes already has one eye on riding another thousand winners after joining the 1,000 club at Wetherby on Friday.

The leading northern-based jockey achieved the milestone aboard the Nicky Richards-trained My Old Gold in West Yorkshire, and swiftly added another three winners to his tally with a treble at Newcastle on on Saturday.

After initially riding on the Flat, the County Armagh-born rider moved to Britain to concentrate on his career as a jumps jockey – and was crowned champion conditional in the 2007-08 season.

Hughes and Waiting Patiently win the Ascot Chase last season

The 33-year-old has firmly established himself among the among the elite, finishing runner-up to Richard Johnson in the jockeys’ title race in each of the last two seasons and recently passing a century of winners for the fifth season in a row.

Hughes said: “It’s great to get there. I suppose when you start off you hope you might ride 100 winners – and then you want to get to 1,000.

“It would be nice to think I could ride another thousand. Whether that’s achievable or not, I don’t know.

“When you think Richard Johnson has ridden over 3,500 winners, and AP McCoy rode over 4,000, to get to 1,000 seems a bit insignificant – but it’s still a decent enough achievement, I suppose.”

Hughes rode his first and only Grade One winner to date when partnering Ruth Jefferson’s Waiting Patiently to success in the Ascot Chase last February.

He has also enjoyed three winners at the Cheltenham Festival, scoring aboard Tim Easterby’s Hawk High in the 2014 Fred Winter before landing the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase aboard Ballyalton and Mister Whitaker in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

“I wouldn’t like to pick out just one winner as a highlight. I appreciate every winner I get and all the people that help me get them – all the owners, trainers and my agent, Richard Hale,” Hughes added.

“Obviously any winner at the Cheltenham Festival is good, and it was great to get my first Grade One winner on Waiting Patiently.

“Hopefully we can continue to ride more winners, and more big winners.”

Hughes currently sits third in this season’s jump jockeys’ championship, behind Johnson and Harry Skelton.

While he dreams of becoming champion one day, it is not something he is concentrating on.

He said: “I think it will be very difficult to become champion jockey as long as Richard Johnson is riding. Richard is a brilliant jockey and a great man, and has taken over where AP (McCoy) left off.

“I think I’m doing as well as I possibly can – and I’m still around 50 winners behind him this season.

“I don’t want to sound defeatist, but I want to focus on things I think are totally achievable.”

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