Sunday 23 October 2016

Track Talk

HIS last ride in Ireland was on May 24, his last winner in Ireland was on May 23 and his biggest winner in Ireland also came in May, five years ago when he won the Irish 2,000 Guineas on Canford Cliffs.

It's hard to believe we won't see the unmistakable figure of Richard Hughes riding in Ireland again as over the weekend he announced that Glorious Goodwood would bring the curtain down on his life as a jockey as he opens up the new chapter on entering the training ranks.

It was never any surprise that Hughes was so intent on becoming a trainer. He watched for years as his father Dessie continued to be one of the best on these shores and in the winter months when he wasn't too busy plying his trade on the all-weather circuit in England or out riding in India, Richard would often be seen at some of our biggest jump meetings, most notably Leopardstown at Christmas.


When at home he was very hands on with Dessie and undoubtedly picked up some great advice that he'll take into his new career with him and alongside that is the fact that he has worked with some of the world's greatest trainers during his career as a jockey and spent the guts of seven-years watching how Richard Hannon went about his business.

Hughes' initial announcement about his retirement indicated that this would be his last season and that he would try and exit the weighroom as champion jockey for the fourth time.

Becoming champion jockey was a massive target of his and once achieved for the first time he was keen not to relinquish the crown and while recently announcing that he may have his first runners as a trainer later this year, the confirmation of his end date in the saddle came on Friday when he revealed that due to the hectic schedule of sales and inspecting yearlings, he wouldn't have time to continue riding.

This literally was a sign of what is to come. Irish Guineas weekend was a prominent feature in the opening paragraph of this article. His last Irish winner came on 2,000 Guineas day and his final ride in Ireland was in the 1,000 Guineas but don't be surprised if that weekend plays a big part in Hughes' training career in the future.

Obviously it is unlikely that he will manage to come upon a Guineas contender in his first season training but his decision, which had to be a very difficult one to make considering the likes of Sole Power was his to ride in a Group One next month, just goes to show how determined he is to fill his new base with stock of the best of quality possible and just like when he was riding, there'll be no half measures here.

The determination it took for him to be champion jockey, often riding at 10 meetings a week and constantly fighting with the scales to keep his weight in order was not something that would come easy to anyone but Hughes proved he had the mentality to succeed and there can be little doubt that he is already showing that same drive to get him as far up the training ranks as he can.

Already some big owners have been linked with supporting him and at the end of the day that is the key but this is a man that defied his height and mastered the art of riding and I'd be confident he'll manage similar when training.

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