Irish Independent Cheltenham award to honour Hughes
This year's Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award at the Cheltenham Festival will honour the late Dessie Hughes (pictured below), who enjoyed some of his finest moments at Prestbury Park.
Of his eight wins in the saddle, which included a famous Gold Cup triumph on Davy Lad in 1977, it was his 1979 Champion Hurdle victory on the teak-tough Monksfield that first elevated his status to that of an iconic sporting figure.
Fittingly, then, it was also the Champion Hurdle that proved the source of his most memorable feats as a trainer, with the dual title-holder Hardy Eustace (2004, 2005) his most accomplished performer.
"Myself, Mum and Sandra are delighted that Dad will be remembered at this year's Festival with the Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award," said Hughes' son Richard, the champion Flat jockey, whose sister Sandra has taken over from her father on the Curragh.
"He had so many winners at the course, both as a trainer and a jockey. I will always remember those big races he won, including the Gold Cup and Champion as a rider and the Champion Hurdle, twice with Hardy Eustace, as a trainer."
David Courtney, the paper's Sports Editor, added: "We are thrilled to be able to commemorate Dessie Hughes by putting his name to the Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award.
"He was such a respected and influential figure in the world of National Hunt racing that we felt it fitting he would be remembered on the biggest stage of all at Cheltenham, where he created so many wonderful memories."
Reigning champion trainer Willie Mullins is the bookmakers' long odds-on favourite to secure the award for a fourth time in five years.