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Friday 22 September 2017

Hughes wows Curragh crowd as sun shines on Cliffs

Saturday's Irish 2000 Guineas technically saw the prize go for export as Canford Cliffs' victory, being trained by Richard Hannon, meant that the travelling contingent had claimed the opening Classic of the Irish season.

However, the man of the moment around HQ on Saturday was one of the Curragh's very own -- Richard Hughes.

Son of local trainer Dessie, Hughes has been for some time based in England and is the son-in-law of the winning trainer. And he was the toast of many as he partnered the impressive Canford Cliffs to success.

His Saturday consisted of the following:

Very little breakfast, a bit of media work where he had to defend claims that his Guineas mount would actually get a mile. Proving that point with a facile Guineas success, then pleasing odds-on backers by completing a double on Shamwari Lodge.

Then it was a dash off to Newbury -- yes Newbury, not Naas -- where he had four rides before he was on the go again, heading off to Tony McCoy's end-of-season party on Saturday night, before returning to the Curragh again, Sunday morning.

Hughes received the warmest reception of the weekend on Saturday when returning on Canford Cliffs, who was winning for the first time since the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot last year. But what a way to prove your doubters wrong.

'Rozzer', as he is known by some, oozed the confidence he had spoken about and in his ever stylish and elegant way he sat in a little closer and pushed the colt clear to please those who had the faith in his staying capabilities.

Afterwards, Hughes joked with RTé's Robert Hall by saying he wouldn't get the stiff mile at Ascot next time. Hall was shocked by the statement, before the sarcasm hit home, as Hughes walked off with a spring in his step.

Both Hannon and Hughes had to put up the same defence for Paco Boy who was on the wrong end of some similar doubts, which probably made the questions about Canford Cliffs a bit more irritating.

Both have proved it, though, and no doubt both will go on to prove it again.

It was fitting, though, that one of Ireland's finest riding exports got to wow his home crowd in front of family, friends, and the average Joe Soap, as he claimed a first Irish Classic. And aren't these things always a bit sweeter when there is a point proven at the end.

Finally, credit has to be given to Evan Arkwright and the Curragh management who not only secured the sponsorship of Abu Dhabi for the weekend in these tough times, but even made the sponsors throw in their native weather as part of the deal.

Isn't it amazing what can be done these days!

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