Richard Hughes: will be training from a yard in Hampshire
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
RICHARD HUGHES has been granted a training licence by the BHA – and is rated a 5-1 chance by Coral to get off to a winning start.
The former three-time champion jockey does not know yet when that first runner will be, but however he gets on with his initial representatives this year, his prospects of making a long-term success of training were yesterday given a big thumbs-up.
And not just by bookmakers, with former weighing-room colleagues Johnny Murtagh and Walter Swinburn, who are among the few jockeys in recent years to have ridden to a similar level as him before starting training, expressing confidence that Hughes will cut the mustard.
‘Sky’s the limit’
Murtagh, who continued riding when he first received his licence, said: “The sky’s the limit. He just needs a good horse to walk into the yard and a bit of luck.”
Swinburn, who took over the operation run for many years by his then father-in-law Peter Harris, said: “He’s made for it and we’ve seen it coming for three or four years. He’s been making big calls as part of a well-oiled team for a long time.
“Like Johnny and I, he’s more than a jockey. He’s a proper horseman. That’s a big head-start.”
Hughes, who has taken over the main yard at Ken Cunningham-Brown’s Stockbridge set-up in Hampshire, is doing things differently to Murtagh and Swinburn, who both believe that will be to his advantage.
Murtagh added: “I found it a bit beyond me doing the two jobs together, although I got a great kick out of it, and the day Royal Diamond won the Group 1 at Ascot with me training and riding was one of the best of my life.
“Hughesie wants to give it a good shot, so breaking off one and concentrating solely on the other is probably the right thing to do with the number of horses he’s going to start with.
“You are there 24/7, and unlike as a jockey, where you get off the horse and leave it, you have to deal with the owner and the staff. But it’s a great life. You’re the captain of your own ship, with everything depending on you, and by the sounds of it he’s looking forward to it.”
Swinburn was given good advice by his mentor Sir Michael Stoute when he started training, but said circumstances did not allow him to follow it as he would have liked.
He said: “Michael impressed two things on me when I started training. The first was to make sure I was making my own decisions and the second was to get the bad news out of the way first when dealing with owners.
“I understood that not long after taking over the licence, but in my case I found there were too many chiefs and not enough indians, and that’s why I stopped training. Hughesie won’t have that problem.”
Paddy Power, whose firm go just evens about Hughes saddling a winner at Glorious Goodwood next year, where he particularly excelled as a rider, said: “Hughesie was an amazing jockey and his popularity means he should have no trouble attracting owners in droves and hopefully climbing to the very peak of his second profession.”
Coral likewise priced up some Hughes specials and spokesman David Stevens said: “Having hit the heights as a jockey, it would be no surprise to see Richard Hughes back in the winner’s enclosures at his favourite festivals next summer, this time with his trainer’s hat on.”
Don’t miss Richard Hughes’s exclusive column in Saturday’s Racing Post
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