Richard Hughes two behind Paul Hanagan in jockeys’ title race

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Richard Hughes two behind Paul Hanagan in jockeys’ title race
This year’s Flat jockeys’ championship now promises to go right to the wire although what has happened in the past 24 hours suggests that nothing can be taken for granted.
The confusion over whether Richard Hughes would be riding at Doncaster or Churchill Downs was finally decided, the Irishman made further inroads into the lead of rival rider Paul Hanagan, lost what seemed to be the opportunity to get closer and then had it promptly handed to him once more.
Having decided that he would give up the ride on Paco Boy, in the Grade One Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill on Saturday night so that he could commit to Doncaster and the title challenge instead, Hughes started the day with seven rides at Nottingham, while Hanagan restricted himself to the late meeting at Kempton Park.
A day slogging through the mud at Colwick Park produced one winner for Hughes – when Spring Secret won the sixth race. But it was the winter weather that brought the jockey to a standstill when the helicopter that was supposed to take him to Kempton, where he had six rides booked, was grounded to poor flying conditions.
A switch to a car quickly became a futile journey and the jockey quit for the day. However, his frustration at missing the meeting was not compounded by his rival gaining advantage as he failed to ride a winner on any of his eight mounts on the card where the feature race – the Listed Digibet Floodlit Stakes was a dead-heat between Dansili Dancer and Mastery, last year’s St Leger winner.
The title battle could yet go the same way – as it did in 2007 when Seb Sanders and Jamie Spencer tied on 190 winners – but now Hanagan’s safety margin may have been diminished which has been steadily whittled down since Hughes returned from a seven-day ban on October 22nd, at which point he was 13 winners behind Hanagan.
Hughes was originally on the sidelines for Friday because of a British Horseracing Authority ruling that precludes a jockey from riding at more than nine meetings in any given week. Having missed his rides at Kempton, Hughes is now free to ride at either Southwell or Wolverhampton on Friday.
The problem will be booking rides at such short notice and his agent, Tony Hind, is going to be working overtime to provide his man with the ammunition for what could be a thrilling denouement.
At present the jockey’s only booked ride for Doncaster is Expose, for William Haggas in the nursery, but doubtless Hind will be working hard to uncover a few more.



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