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Hughes still the man to trust in Flat Jockeys Championship

| 13.05.2014

Ryan Moore knew he had to make hay while reigning champion Richard Hughes was sidelined with injury and the camera-shy assassin has not disappointed, coming back to the barn with bails of the stuff with the season just over a month old.

Moore, who has taken the end-of-season honours himself three times (2006,2008 and 2009), has been at the top of his game since The Lincoln lifted the curtain on the campaign at the end of March.

A total of 39 winners have already been amassed, a lead of 12 over second-placed Paul Hanagan (33/1) but crucially a full 25 more than Hughes, who the layers see as being in a straight duel with Moore.

Even with the head-start Moore is only a shade of odds-on at 8/11 with the returning Hughes easy to back at 5/4 considering the manner of his victories the past two seasons.

Hughes notched over 200 winners for the first time since Kieren Fallon achieved the feat in 2003 last year and with a total of 208 had the most successful season numerically since Frankie Dettori racked up 211 in the second of what was to be three Championships for the Italian.

Hughes eventually held off Moore with a degree of comfort despite what the press coverage would have had the stranger in the street believe.

Moore finished the season 14 adrift of Hughes who showed in the closing weeks that he was willing to ride anything, anywhere to defend his crown.

The media hype made it a more stressful experience than in 2012 where there was a gap of 41 between Hughes and his nearest pursuers with Moore unable to finish better than fourth in an injury-hit campaign.

Hughes’ own setback has weirdly provided the perfect natural handicap for this year with both jockeys able to challenge with considerable fire power at their disposal.

Hughes has first pick of all of the best horses from Richard Hannon’s yard, who themselves are well positioned to top the training ranks once more.

Moore plays a massive role in the Ballydoyle operation and is the first choice for many trainers when he is available due to Joseph O’Brien’s position as stable numero uno.

This gives both riders an excellent chance at winning some of the big races but as is said so often in this particular competition, crossing the line in front of the Derby means nothing more than in a maiden at Musselburgh.

And in that regard Hughes has to have the edge as not only is the personal desire proven further in the Irishman but the nature of Hannon’s operation lends itself much more to landing the prize.

Who is the better jockey is largely irrelevant when you’re pitting two of the greatest judges of the modern age against one and another and so anything odds-against about Hughes should be taken regardless of the accidental handicap he has been forced to overcome.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Sam Foster