Dubliner Richard Hughes rode his first winner on British soil, Scissor Ridge, at Wolverhampton in July, 1994 and his last, Belvoir Bay, at Goodwood in July, 2015. All in all, Hughes rode 2,428 domestic winners, which places him fourteenth in the all-time list of the most successful jockeys, numerically, in the history of British Flat racing.
Between 2000 and 2007, Hughes accepted a retainer from Prince Khalid Abdullah, as first jockey following the retirement of Pat Eddery in 2003, but as his tenure in the familiar pink, white and green silks came to an end, he gravitated more towards his father-in-law, Richard Hannon Snr.. Having been narrowly denied the jockeys’ title in 2010, after an epic battle with Paul Hanagan, Hughes, at the age of 39, was into the veteran stage of his career when he became Champion Jockey for the first time in 2012.
Despite missing the first month of the season after a 50-day ban imposed on him by the Indian racing authorities was upheld by the British Horseracing Authority, Hughes rode 172 winners and won the jockeys’ title in a hack canter, beating his nearest rival, Silvestre De Sousa by 41 winners. Hannon Snr. was responsible for most of his major wins that year, but his sole domestic Group 1 victory came courtesy of The Fugue, trained by John Gosden, in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.
It was a similar story in 2013. Richard Hannon Snr., who was set to hand over training duties to his son, Richard Jnr., at the end of the season, was Champion Trainer and Hughes won his first British Classic, the 1,000 Guineas, on Sky Lantern – who completed a notable treble in the Coronation Stakes and the Sun Chariot Stakes – and his second, the Oaks, on Talent, trained by Ralph Beckett. Other victories at the highest level included Toronado in the Sussex Stakes and Olympic Glory in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes as Hughes comfortably held off the challenge of Ryan Moore to win his second consecutive jockeys’ title with 208 winners. In so doing, he became the first jockey since Kieren Fallon, a decade earlier, to ride over two hundred winners in a season.
The 2014 season did not start well for Hughes, who unknowingly broke a vertebra in a fall in the Sheema Classic in Dubai in late March. However, he recovered fairly quickly and commenced ‘business as usual’ with his brother-in-law Richard Hannon Jnr. Cartier Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Tiggy Wiggy won four times, culminating in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket, and Toronado won the Queen Anne Stakes, while high-profile winners for other yards include Sole Power, trained by Edward Lynam in the King’s Stand Stakes and the Nunthorpe Stakes. All in all, Hughes rode 161 domestic winners to become Champion Jockey for the third consecutive year.