‘I’m just having a purple patch’ says jockey Hughes in race to catch Johnson

Jockey Brian Hughes. Picture: PA.
Jockey Brian Hughes. Picture: PA.
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NORTH Yorkshire jump jockey Brian Hughes took his tally of winners this month to an incredible 29 following a double at Wetherby courtesy of Kalaniti and Cooking Fat.

By his high standards, it was a quiet day – his recent run of success has included a five-timer at Musselburgh and four winners at Sedgefield on Tuesday.

Yet Hughes has played down his chances of becoming the first Northern-based champion National Hunt jockey for a generation.

Despite having 66 winners to his name, Hughes is still 40 adrift of defending champion Richard Johnson in the title race which ends next April.

“Richard Johnson is the champion jockey, a brilliant rider and a brilliant man. I’m just having a purple patch,” said Hughes. “Everyone wants to be champion jockey, but without wanting to sound defeatist, I think it would be disrespectful to say I could beat him (Johnson).

“If I can finish in the top four or five every year, ride 100 winners and maybe have a big one along the way, I’ll be over the moon. This game is a great leveller and full of disappointments, so I just want to keep my feet on the ground and keep doing the best I can.”

The rider was also quick to praise others for their role. “It’s a little bit embarrassing. Things are almost going too well and I just hope it (luck) doesn’t run out,” he added. “I’m just part of a big wheel. I’m lucky to be riding for yards that are in good form.

“There are plenty of lads in the weighing room who could ride these horses, it’s getting on them that’s the difficult thing. I’m the one getting all the pats on the back, but it’s the lads and lasses that look after the horses on a daily basis that really deserve the credit.”

Former World Hurdle hero Cole Harden is set to make his novice chase debut at Wetherby on Saturday week. Trained by Warren Greatrx and ridden by Gavin Sheehan, the brave front-runner won the West Yorkshire Hurdle at the same track in 2014 en route to Cheltenham festival glory the following March.