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‘It’s magic!’ – racing world salutes champion jockey Brian Hughes

Brian Hughes - Champion jockey Brian Hughes gets back to business (VBET)

Leading figures from the horse racing industry pay tribute to VBET ambassador Brian Hughes, the 2019-20 UK champion jumps jockey:

Brian Ellison, trainer

“I’m over the moon for him. He’s worked so hard for this and deserves it. He rides out for us once in a while and knows the form of every horse inside out. He’s like an encyclopaedia when it comes to form and is a complete professional.”

James Ewart, trainer

“This is all down to Brian. He’s worked extremely hard and is unbelievably dedicated. He’s been riding for us since he was a conditional and has ridden circa 70 winners for the yard. There’s no one in this country that rides with his panache and his balance. He’s a different league in the north and we are very lucky to have him.”

Bill Farnsworth, Musselburgh racecourse chief executive

“People enjoy watching him ride and I’ve seen him win races at our track that he had no right winning. There was also that unforgettable day a few years ago when he rode five winners on the card. We are delighted for him. It’s a major achievement.

“He just never gives up. One day a few years ago we had a frost, and on the morning everyone was telling us to abandon the meeting. But then Brian came out and said, ‘These guys know what they’re doing – leave them to it’. The meeting ended up going ahead and that was all down to Brian. We’ve the highest respect for him.”

Ruth Jefferson, trainer

“He’s been on an upward trajectory for such a long time and it’s so nice to see someone who has such burning ambition achieve their dreams. Brian and Dad (late trainer Malcolm Jefferson) grew together as a team and that helped him progress as a jockey. He’s achieved something most can only dream of.”

James Lambe, trainer

“Brian came to me as a child, and even then I knew he was going to be a star. He’s a wonderful jockey and a wonderful human being. I. cannot speak highly enough of him. I’ve never come across anyone as driven and determined to win as Brian Hughes.

“Tony McCoy rode 21 winners for me, but Brian is as hungry and as keen as AP. Brian was never handed anything on a plate. This is all about him. Even as a kid, riding for me at 15, he could see no failure. And that’s why he is now a champion jockey.”

Cornelius Lysaght, journalist and broadcaster

“National Hunt horse racing in the north has struggled a bit of late, so to get a boost like this is wonderful. But, more importantly, it’s wonderful for Brian Hughes. He has shown what a great, hard-working, industrious and skilful jockey he is.

“Not since the 1970s has a jockey being a king on the northern and Scottish circuits like Brian. He’s simply dominated his arena and has dominated it in such spectacular style. He’s a marvellous ambassador for horse racing.”

Donald McCain, trainer

“What with him joining our yard and his others contacts in the north, there was always a chance of him becoming champion jockey. And now he’s achieved the dream I couldn’t be happier for him. I think this is a story that has slightly been overlooked.

“The fact is that he’s thoroughly deserved it. His work ethic is second to none, but he’s also a high-class jockey and a top man. Nothing has ever come easy to Brian. He’s had to work hard every day of his life to get to where he is now. It’s also fantastic for the north to have a champion jockey. It’s magic!”

 

Michael Naughton, Sedgefield clerk of the course

“I think Sedgefield is his winning-most track and he is always very involved with everything we do here, from the positioning of fences and hurdles and suchlike. It’s a fantastic achievement from a fantastic jockey.

“He’s probably the most dedicated lad in the weighing room and the respect he has from the young lads is unreal. He’s done the north of England proud and we’re so happy for him.”

Kevin Prendergast, trainer

“He’s always been a very nice boy and a very good jockey. He started his career with me all them years ago, and we recommended to him that it would be a good idea to go to England and become a jumps jockey instead of a Flat jockey. We’ve stayed in touch and he rode Katie T to win the Ladbrokes Hurdle for me back in 2015.

“We’re very, very happy for him. We could never have visualised that he’d one day be a champion jockey, but he’s always been very, very dedicated – and that gets you a long way in life.”

Nicky Richards, trainer

“We’ve been very lucky at Greystoke as we had Ron Barry and Jonjo (O’Neill), who were both champion jockeys. And now we’ve got Brian, who has ridden a good few winners for us.

“There are definitely similarities between the three of them in that they work very, very hard and have a lot of self-belief. Brian always has time and advice for the lads and lasses at the yard and that shows you how much of a decent human being he is. I’m sure Richard Johnson, who is an amazing fellow himself, will take his hat off to him.”


Andy Thornton, Gold Cup-winning former jockey

“This could not be more deserved. I’ve known his family for a long time – his wife’s mum even taught me at pony club. He’d be the first to acknowledge that the great family support he gets has played a massive part in his development.

“AP (McCoy) was very single-minded in his early days and Brian reminds me of him in that respect. He’s so driven and so determined to succeed. He’s got this unbelievable will to win, to the point of having tunnel-vision. I’m so happy for him and his family.”

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