Hughes not giving up on title
Richard Hughes has refused to concede the jockeys' title to tearaway rival Paul Hanagan, even after losing an appeal yesterday against the severity of a six-day careless riding ban imposed by Wolverhampton stewards last Saturday night.
"I'm going to go hell for leather and will try my heart out until the ban starts (October 16), and then we'll see where we stand. Until then, I'll have my head down and will keep going," he said.
Bookmakers shortened Hanagan to 1/8 to lift the championship for the first time, as Hughes travelled from British Horseracing Authority offices in London to Newbury, and then on to Wolverhampton again for another six rides last night.
As he sat through the 75-minute hearing in the morning, Hughes looked tired, though he defended himself well when called upon for his evidence.
When news that the appeal had failed came through, Hughes said: "I thought Andrew (Chalk, his solicitor) put up a good case, but apparently it was not to be. It's disappointing but that's racing." The BHA appeal panel, chaired by Charlie Warde-Aldam, backed up by Richard Gould and Lucinda Cavendish, took little more than 15 minutes to reach their verdict, though they ordered Hughes' deposit be returned.
Curiously, Hughes would never have been at Wolverhampton on a Saturday night, on the eve of the Arc, had he not been chasing the jockeys' title.
Equally, it could be argued, he would never have been at BHA headquarters with such an appeal if the championship had not been at stake. In the event, neither Chalk nor Hughes made any reference at the hearing to the title race and its importance to the jockey, who has already expressed the view that he will never get such an opportunity again.
"If I come back from the ban (on October 23) and I find that I'm more than 15 behind, then that'll be it. But let's wait until then, to see where we stand," he added.
Hughes had been looking to have the Wolverhampton suspension reduced to two days, but the visual impact of the stewards' patrol film, taken from five different angles, was always going to weigh heavily against him.
True, he tightened up the opposition in tough professional style, and it could possibly be argued that Luke Morris (on his immediate inside, aboard April Fool) did some of the damage in anticipating Hughes, aboard the Barney Curley-trained Aviso, coming right over on him, and taking early evasive action.
But ultimately, it could be seen that Hughes had started the chain reaction, which resulted in some runners being squeezed, some checked, and one being stopped in his tracks. It looked ugly. (© Daily Telegraph, London)