Conduct marks century for Haggas

Champion Jockey Richard Hughes comes back on Kyllachy RiseChampion Jockey Richard Hughes comes back on Kyllachy Rise
Champion Jockey Richard Hughes comes back on Kyllachy Rise
HOW apt that Conduct should have won the final major race of the 2013 Flat season and complete a first-ever century of winners for Yorkshire-born trainer William Haggas.

On the day Richard Hughes was crowned champion jockey for a second successive year, it was Seb Sanders – the 2007 joint champion who turned the Betfred November Handicap into a procession at a rain-sodden Doncaster.

Formerly trained by Sir Michael Stoute, the injury-prone six-year-old could be spotted travelling noticeably well throughout and Sanders weaved his way through the pack to challenge Open Eagle on entering the final furlong before powering clear to win by five lengths.

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Skipton-born Haggas, whose Harris Tweed was beaten on the line at Qipco Champions Day, has now trained 100 winners for the first time and accrued in excess of £1.8m in prize money – far more than in 1996 when Shaamit won the Epsom Derby.

A one-time cricketer on Yorkshire’s books, the white rose county has been a particularly lucrative hunting ground for the Newmarket-trainer this year – stable star Mukhadram won the Sky Bet York Stakes – and Conduct’s victory could not have been more exemplary.

He handled the desperately soft going better than his rivals and Haggas, Lester Piggott’s son-in-law, observed: “He’s been very fragile, loves soft ground and has been waiting for this step up in trip.

“Sir Michael told us what a good horse he was and the treadmill has been the making of him. He’s had a leg (tendon injury) three times but, touching a lot of wood, he’s been fine with us.”

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As for the champion jockey, Hughes will spend the winter racing around the world after becoming the first rider since Kieren Fallon in 2003 to notch up 200 winners in a term.

Hughes notched another landmark just last weekend when he rode his first Breeders’ Cup winner on the Charlie Hills-trained Chriselliam at Santa Anita in America.

“It’s a fabulous day and this is why you do it. I wanted to show last year wasn’t a fluke,” he said. “My ambition from day one has been to win a Derby. I haven’t had enough rides in it to win it yet.

“This is my busiest time of the year. I’m off to South Africa, Japan, India and Hong Kong.

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This was, however, an exasperating day for two Flat jockeys who previously competed over jumps in Yorkshire.

Jazz’s runaway win in the opener left Jim Crowley stranded on the 99-winner mark for the campaign, the same number as Graham Lee – the 2004 Grand National-winning jockey – who got to within one of a deserved century when course specialist Jack Dexter took the Wentworth Stakes.

Sent off the 100-30 favourite, the four-year-old had won at Doncaster on the opening weekend of the campaign and encountered difficulty in running before powering clear of Highland Colori by three-quarters of a length.

Bedale-based Lee wasn’t worried at any stage, saying he still hit the front too soon.

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“It was a great performance with his penalty. He won’t need a bedtime story tonight as he’s given everything! He’s a star to me,” he added.

There was no winner for talented teenager Jason Hart who is the champion apprentice after accrueing 51 victories.

Attached to Declan Carroll’s yard at Sledmere, the Yorkshire-based rider received his prize from Hughes in front of his proud family.

The quietly-spoken Hart admitted that he is still coming to terms with the accolade, which has been won in the past by many of riding’s all-time greats.

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Yet, while Hart is the present, Oisin Murphy is the future. After his treble at Doncaster on Racing Post Trophy day, he again teamed up with Malton trainer John Quinn to take the betfred Fun and Friendly Handicap Stakes on Levitate with a perfectly poised ride.

Using hands and heels predominantly as more accomplished riders floundered in the saddle as Town Moor was silhouetted by a rainbow in a brief interlude from the rain, this was a remarkable win for Levitate who won the Lincoln on the opening day of the season.

In order to protect his weight allowance for 2014, Murphy will “muck out” at his principle trainer Andrew Balding’s yard before flying to Australia at the end of the month to ride out during the winter.

He will be very much in demand next season, though the Quinn stable will be hoping that they can make full use of Murphy’s 5lb claim when Levitate defends his Lincoln title.

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“His second-ever winner was on Planetex for us at Ripon in June,” said the trainer’s son and assistant Sean.

“It was a race for boys who had never had a winner. Because the declarations were made just a few hours before he had his first ever success, he kept the ride.

“He impressed us that day both on and off the horse. When the big handicaps came up at the end of the season, he proved to be exceptional value.

“He’s a jockey going places.”

Melodic Rendezvous looked every inch a Champion Hurdle contender when flooring Triumph Hurdle runner-up Far West in Wincanton’s Elite Hurdle on his first run for nine months

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Prevented from contesting Cheltenham’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by a bad scope, Jeremy Scott’s charge oozed class as he survived a couple of hiccups in the race to score going away under Nick Scholfield who then completed an eyecatching double when Wonderful Charm maintained his unbeaten record over fences.

Flemenstar got his season off to the best possible start with back-to-back victories in the Fortria Chase at Navan yesterday.

Now in the care of Tony Martin, having left Peter Casey, one of the stars of the winter game jumped exuberantly throughout under Andrew Lynch.

The 1-4 favourite tracked Realt Mor the whole way until jumping into the lead at the third-last going on to win well.