Hughes celebrates '¨a landmark double

NORTH Yorkshire jump jockey Brian Hughes brought up a second successive century of winners when completing a double at Hexham.

Jockey Brian Hughes

The former champion conditional won the novice hurdle on Gully’s Edge for Malton-based Malcolm Jefferson, the jockey’s number one trainer, before landing the handicap chase at the Northumberland track on Gibbstown for Ireland-based Paul Stafford.

Hughes, who has spent most of his career based in North Yorkshire and is always one of the first on the gallops each day, is just the fifth jockey, after Richard Johnson, Aidan Coleman, Sam Twiston-Davies and Noel Fehily, to reach the much-coveted landmark.

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Yet, unlike his rivals, Hughes is based in the North where there are fewer fixtures and opportunities. Even midweek meetings are now regularly targeted by the top yards from the South.

A jockey who spends every spare minute studying the form or trying to make new contacts, the highlight of the 2015-16 season came when Hughes recorded his second victory at the Cheltenham Festival when Ballyalton prevailed for golfer Lee Westwood’s father John and Midlands trainer Ian Williams in the Close Brothers’ Novices Handicap Chase.

The race owed Hughes – he had long been irked that he had lost the 2014 renewal in a controversial finish on Jefferson’s Attaglance before breaking his Cheltenham duck the next day courtesy of Tim Easterby’s Hawk High.

His next target will be surpassing the career best 106 winners that he rode last season; he has three and a half weeks, including Aintree’s Grand National meeting, to do so.

Meanwhile, Thirsk-based Danny Cook’s rich vein of form continued when Kid Valentine won the opener at Hexham. It was the rider’s 44th success in a career-best campaign.