Richard Hughes has every intention of chasing the jockeys’ championship again next year after being crowned Flat king for the first time at Doncaster on Saturday.
Achieving a life-long ambition, Hughes had the title in safe-keeping for some weeks after building up an unassailable lead over Silvestre de Sousa and third-placed William Buick.
Hughes was accompanied by his son, Harvey, to the podium at Doncaster to receive his trophy, after which the champagne flowed and he was hoisted on the shoulders of his weighing-room colleagues.
Hughes, who also had his wife, Lizzie, father and top trainer Dessie Hughes, as well as his mother, Eileen, in attendance, said: “It’s a great feeling, much better than being runner-up, especially two years ago (after a hard-fought battle with Hanagan that went to the last day).
“I’d have walked here if I’d had to. You only get out of this game what you put in – I don’t think I have been lucky, I think I have earned it.
“I worked really hard in September and it paid off. I didn’t want to be going here there and everywhere in October.”
A reliable stream of winners from Richard Hannon consistently boosted Hughes on the way to the top with the likes of multiple winners Libranno, Havana Gold and Toronado amongst others contributing to his final tally of 172 winners, with De Sousa on 131.
Hughes even managed to transcend to the back pages of the papers when famously winning seven out of eight races at Windsor last month at odds in excess of 10,000-1.
The first to come close to matching Frankie Dettori’s feat of seven from seven back in 1996, Hughes’ super septet comprised of Pivotal Mome, East Texas Red, Embankment, Magic Secret, Links Drive Lady, Duke of Clarence and Mama Quilla.
“If I had to single out one day it would have to be at Windsor when I had those seven winners. I had the title tied up by then,” Hughes said.
“I won’t hand it (the title) over too easy, it’s a privilege to be champion and I’ll go again. I’ll see how I am going by (Glorious) Goodwood.”
Amy Ryan broke new ground as she became the first female rider to win the champion apprentice title outright, something not even Hayley Turner managed.
For the first time this year, there was also a separate prize awarded for the champion lady rider, judged on a winners-to-runners ratio, and won by Turner.
John Gosden landed a first trainers’ title with Ghurair’s Tattersalls Million win swelling the coffers nicely after the likes of Nathaniel, The Fugue, Thought Worthy and Fallen For You contributed some sizeable chunks of prize money.