Champion jockey Richard Hughes is set to ride at his final Qatar Goodwood Festival after announcing that he plans to retire by the end of this season and embark on a training career.
The 42-year-old has been the jockey to follow at the five-day meeting, partnering 54 winners in total and a remarkable 30 since 2010. He lifted the Racing UK Top Jockey Award for the first time that year with a modernday record of nine winners and nearly matched the feat when recording eight victories in 2013.
Hughes was also the Racing UK Top Jockey at the Festival in 2011 (five wins) and 2012 (four wins) but just missed out last year when enjoying another four successes.
Hughes was born on 11th January, 1973 and is the son of the late Dessie Hughes, who enjoyed many top-level successes in the National Hunt sphere as both a jockey and trainer. Richard served his apprenticeship with his father and rode his first winner at Fairyhouse in April, 1988. He moved to Britain in 1994 and partnered his first Goodwood winner later that year on board the John Dunlop-trained Luhuk in the Listed Foundation Stakes.
Hughes was owner Khalid Abdullah’s retained rider from 2001 to 2007, but it was his subsequent association with trainer Richard Hannon snr that played a crucial part in his success at Goodwood. The jockey and trainer combined to land Goodwood’s flagship race, the Qatar Sussex Stakes, with Canford Cliffs and Toronado in 2010 and 2013 respectively. Canford Cliffs completed a Group One hat-trick following wins in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes, while Toronado got the better of arch rival Dawn Approach in a thrilling finish. Hughes marks them out as two of the best horses he has ever ridden.
The partnership also dominated the feature two-year-old contests at Goodwood. They annexed the Group Two Richmond Stakes five times in seven years and gained four consecutive victories in the Group Two Vintage Stakes between 2010 and 2013.
Hughes boasts an outstanding record in Goodwood’s top handicap and one of the most competitive races of the season, the Qatar Stewards’ Cup. He struck on 40/1 outsider Shikari’s Son in 1995 before recording back-to-back victories on Harmonic Way (1999) and Tayseer (2000). Intrinsic bridged a 14-year gap when storming to an impressive victory in 2014.
The rider’s Goodwood haul also features a scintillating success on the The Fugue in the 2012 Nassau Stakes and a brace of wins in both the Celebration Mile and Lennox Stakes.
Hughes, married to Lizzie, daughter of Richard Hannon snr and sister of Richard Hannon jnr, collected the jockeys’ championship for the first time in 2012 and has retained the title since. He has won two British Classics and notched up two more successes at Royal Ascot this year, taking his tally to 31.
He will train at Ken Cunningham-Brown’s yard in Hampshire.