Richard Hughes to retire at end of the season

Richard Hughes will retire from riding at the end of the Flat campaign before embarking upon a training career in 2016.

Richard Hughes: Confident. Picture: PA

The 42-year-old, who has won the jockeys’ championship for the last three seasons, has enjoyed great success in the saddle and has most recently struck up a fruitful partnership with Richard Hannon snr and the former trainer’s son, Richard jnr.

Hughes is adamant he has what it takes to make the switch, and has already begun taking his training modules in Newmarket.

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He said: “I’m really looking forward to it.

“I’m confident I can do a job and wouldn’t be heading in that direction if I didn’t think I could do it.

“I’m very comfortable with the position.

“It’s going to be a sad day going into the weighing room for the last time, but I’m not going to retire because I’m going downhill.

“My full commitment is to ride this year.

“Last year was my best season, and Richard Hannon is going to have horses to look forward to for the next ten years, but now is the right time.”

Hughes had been linked with a move to Ken Cunningham-Brown’s stables in Stockbridge, Hampshire, when he does start training, but said: “I’ve looked at plenty of places, but I haven’t signed anything yet.”

Son of top Irish trainer Dessie Hughes, who died in November, Richard Hughes was retained jockey for Khalid Abdullah for several years before he decided to go freelance in 2006.

Big-race winners flowed with regularity thereafter, with horses like Canford Cliffs, Toronado and Olympic Glory flag-bearers for the Hannon stables.

His first British Classic victory came in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket in April 2013, when Sky Lantern defeated Just The Judge by half a length. Sky Lantern also won the Coronation Stakes and the Sun Chariot Stakes under Hughes’ guidance.

Less than a month after his Guineas success, the jockey doubled up in Classics when Talent secured top honours in the Investec Oaks at Epsom.

Renowned for his coolness under pressure, Hughes can also look forward to an exciting final season, with Ivawood and Tiggy Wiggy leading contenders for the 2000 and 1000 Guineas respectively.

Hannon jnr will give Hughes his full backing when the time comes to hang up his saddle.

He told “Hughesie will be going all out to ride as many winners for us this season, but he is very excited about his new venture and we wish him all the best.

“Training is something that Hughesie has always wanted to do, and he has been in Newmarket this week doing his modules.

“He feels that this is the right time for him to switch, and we look forward to being rivals on the track next year and also at the bloodstock sales in the autumn.”

Meanwhile, Noel Fehily will partner Kitten Rock in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next Tuesday.

Mark Walsh steered the JP McManus-owned five-year-old to a hat-trick of victories this season, but the jockey suffered a broken arm in a fall at Thurles last week.

Kitten Rock was a runaway winner of the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park last month, but will be a big outsider for the main event on the opening day.

The New One’s Champion Hurdle preparations neared completion on Wednesday with a satisfactory schooling session.

Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies was delighted with the jumping practice and will be hoping for more luck than last year.

The New One has been well placed by trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies this season and has won more money than any other National Hunt horse, bar Silviniaco Conti.

He is unbeaten since being badly hampered by the fatal fall of Our Conor is last season’s Champion Hurdle.

The New One and Kitten Rock are among eight possible runners.

Willie Mullins has an enviable hand with red-hot favourite Faugheen, dual winner Hurricane Fly and the capable Arctic Fire. Mullins has taken out Annie Power and Un De Sceaux, who have alternative engagements in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle and the Arkle respectively.

Garde Le Victoire, Irving, Plinth, Purple Bay, Sign Of A Victory and Tiger Roll were also removed from the reckoning.

Last year’s winner Jezki, Nicky Henderson’s Vaniteux and the Dan Skelton-trained Bertimont complete the field.