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Brian Hughes faces battle for Jockeys’ title this season

Armagh-born jockey Brian Hughes has dominated the British Jumps Jockeys’ Championship in recent years, as he lifted the trophy for the third straight season back in April. If he is to retain his crown in the latest campaign, the defending champion is going to need a strong second half to the season.

Hughes trails rival Sean Bowen in the standings for the 2023/24 campaign, as the leader has made a fast start and is closing in on his century for the season. 

Big Race Winners Still Motivate Hughes

One of Hughes’ goals this season will be to win some biggest races in the sport. He is likely to ride Salsada in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle. His horse is a 100/1 underdog in the racing odds for that Grade One contest at Newcastle.

As the Paddy Power racing results show, Mr Incredible, with Hughes on his back, was travelling well in the Grand National back in April, before he made an error at the 24th obstacle, unseating the Champion Jockey. Like all jockeys in the sport, the world’s most famous steeplechase will rank very highly on the list of races Hughes will want to win before he hangs up his saddle.

The Cheltenham Festival in March is another meeting that will be on Hughes’ radar this season. There are 28 races across the four days at Prestbury Park in Gloucestershire and each of those are prestigious and carry lucrative prize money.

The 38-year-old continues to be based in the north of England in Carlton-in-Cleveland, North Yorkshire. He is a rider that many of the leading trainers in the region trust to ride their horses in the biggest races on the National Hunt calendar.

Hughes Looking to Join Likes of McCoy and Johnson

In what is going to be an exciting season in the sport, Hughes also faces competition from Harry Cobden and Sam Twiston-Davies for the Jockeys’ Championship, making it a four-way battle for the trophy.

If Hughes does retain his title, it will be his best win yet, as in each of his three previous successes, he has got off to a fast start. This time he is chasing the early pace setters in the standings.

A fourth Jockeys’ Championship would ensure Hughes joins a small group of elite riders that have lifted the trophy more than three times, with Richard Johnson and the legendary Tony McCoy the only previous two to have done that in the last 30 years. As the Daily Mail reported, he is currently one of only four jockeys to ride 200+ winners in a season.

Hughes first moved to England in 2005 and he now believes he is in the final years of his career. Most jockeys tend to retire as they approach their forties, with not many continuing to ride once they reach 40. When the time comes for him to bring an end to riding, he is expected to remain in the sport in some training capacity. 

The 2023/24 British Jumps Jockeys’ Championship winner will be crowned at Sandown in late April in what is the final National Hunt meeting of the season.

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