BRIAN HUGHES will lead the jump jockeys’ title race into Christmas after the in-form North Yorkshire rider completed a four-timer at Newcastle.
Hughes also brought up his century of winners for the 2019-20 season when he managed to conjure a late winning run out of Let Me Be in the finale.
Now on the 100-winner mark, Hughes is now two clear of Richard Johnson, the four-time champion jockey, in one of the most closely-fought title races in recent years.
The championship concludes at Sandown’s season-ending meeting in late April and both men have been travelling up and down in the country in the pursuit of winning rides.
And victory for Hughes, a former champion conditional, would see him become the first Northern-based rider to become champion jump jockey since the legendary Jonjo O’Neill won the second of his two titles in the 1979-80 season.
One of the rider’s successes at Newcastle came courtesy of Theflickering light for Catterick trainer Phil Kirby who was completing an across-the-card double after Desaray Girl prevailed at Haydock under Tommy Dowson.
The Newcastle meeting also saw Malton-based Jamie Hamilton, one of the most under-rated horsemen in the country, win on Mark Walford’s Cash To Ash and Ruth Jefferson’s Lemon T on a good day for Yorkshire-trained horses.
The Merseyside track saw the Sue and Harvey Smith stable return to form with both Joke Dancer and Captain Moirette prevailing under Danny Cook in the colours of Cyril and Aafke Clarke whose Midnight Shadow could line up at Cheltenham on New year’s Day in a novice chase.
Meanwhile Not So Sleep could be a Champion Hurdle contender after a remendous all-the-way win in the valuable Betfair Exchange Trophy Handicap Hurdle at Ascot – Hughie Morrison’s seven-year-old made the most of his light weight to romp home in the hands of Jonathan Burke. And The Worlds End, winner of the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby, landed the Grade One Marsh Hurdle under Adrian Heskin for trainer Tom George.