Richard Hughes Plans Extended 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival Campaign

Photo Credit: Dubai Racing Club // Andrew Watkins

First Dubai World Cup Day Winner on British Champion`s Wish List

Two-time British Champion Jockey, Richard Hughes is set to have an extended stay in Dubai this season as he bids to snap up some high-class rides on Dubai World Cup day.

The Dublin man, who says he would love to ride a winner on the world’s richest day of racing, plans to spend five weeks of the Dubai World Cup Carnival based at Meydan Racecourse.

“The racing at the Dubai World Cup Carnival is second to none and there’s no doubt that come March this is where you want to be,” he said while in Dubai last weekend. “Riding a winner in the Carnival is like riding 100 winners in the UK, so I’ve decided have a five-week stint here this season.”

Hughes may be yet to ride a winner in the Dubai World Cup Carnival, but he did manage to add a Purebred Arabian Group 2 title as well as his first ever Meydan victory to his impressive CV on Thursday.

Heading back to his English home by way of the Indian 1000 Guineas following his spell in Hong Kong with Newmarket 1000 Guineas winner, Sky Lantern, Hughes cemented his top-class riding abilities in the minds of the UAE’s trainers by driving Rabbah de Carrere over the line in the Mazrat Al Ruwayyah.

Having hit the front the Majed Al Jahouri-trained runner obviously decided he had done enough and it was only the determination of Hughes that drove the son of champion race mare, Mizzna to the wire ahead of a sustained challenged from trainer, Ernst Oertel’s Shayel Aldhabi.

“It’s fantastic to get my first winner at Meydan,” said Hughes, who had claimed second-place in the Indian 2000 Guineas on Sunday aboard Circle of Life trained by former Indian Champion Jockey, Pesi Shroff. “So many people do and it would be terrible to say that I didn’t.”

Following time off in January which will be spent with wife Lizzie and children, Harvey and Phoebe on a well-earned holiday in Barbados, master tactician Hughes will head back to Dubai for February and March.

“I’d love to ride a winner on Dubai World Cup day,” said the jockey who will contest the Indian Derby on February 2 before returning to Dubai. “Most years I have only had a few rides for my trainer [Richard Hannon] over here but I’ll stay longer this time. It’s a good spot for me as well because I like my golf and it’s probably the best place in the world for golf.

“It’s going to be great to spend some time with the family and recharge the batteries after the season I’ve had,” he said. “Obviously, it does help when Richard Hannon is doing so well but my season went from strength-to-strength really. It’s been hard work but I’m not afraid of hard work. Mind you a lot of fellas work hard and don’t get the breaks I’ve had so I know how lucky I am.”

Hughes, who pares his 5ft9in frame down to weights below 55kg (8.6 stone) and turns 41 in January, said he has never been happier in his work. And it’s no wonder Hughes is a happy man.

His second season as Britain’s Champion Jockey featured a number of career highlights including his first British Classic courtesy of Sky Lantern in the 1000 Guineas followed by a second British Classic a month later with Talent in the Epsom Oaks. Royal Ascot’s Coronation Stakes also fell to Hughes and Sky Lantern while Toronado took out the Sussex Stakes and Olympic Glory claimed the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes under the jockey’s guidance. His total of 208 winners made Hughes the first jockey to ride more than 200 winners in a British flat season since Kieren Fallon in 2003.

“I feel great and my weight has never been better,” he said. “Riding is my job and I can’t wait to get to work every day. Of course managing your weight is easier when things are going well and it’s much easier now that I am not drinking any more. I might be turning 41 next year, but I feel as good as I did at 21. When you are turning up to ride horses like Toronado and Sky Lantern it’s a huge boost for a jockey.”

Richard Hannon Snr, Hughes’ father-in-law as well as his main employer, is set to hand over his hugely successful training operation to his son, Richard Jnr in a matter of days. Yet the jockey, who had his first ride for Hannon in 1994 aboard the maiden, Jacquelina, and his first Hannon-trained winner in 1995 at Royal Ascot courtesy of Sergeyev in the Jersey Stakes, says he expects very little to change at the Hannon’s Marlborough yard.

“It will be a different name and that’s it,” said Hughes. “I think he will be sticking round for a bit longer, the only difference would be that he can finally go for that week’s holiday if he feels like it.”