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McCain praises ‘ultimate professional’ Hughes after 200th win

Donald McCain hailed Brian Hughes as the “ultimate professional” after the jockey rode into the record books with his 200th winner.

The McCain-trained Dreams Of Home provided Hughes, 36, with the remarkable tally only previously managed by three jump riders – Peter Scudamore, Sir Anthony McCoy and Richard Johnson.

Cheshire-based McCain has supplied over half of Hughes’ winners to help him secure what will be a second title when the season ends at Sandown on Saturday.

“It’s a huge credit to him, he never misses anything, he’s the ultimate professional. He’s as dedicated as anybody I’ve ever met in the sport, it’s full credit to him, it’s richly deserved and a mark of honour,” he said.

Brian Hughes in winning action for Donald McCain
Brian Hughes in winning action for Donald McCain (Mike Egerton/PA)

Hughes will regain the title he first won in the 2019/20 campaign after losing last season’s battle with Harry Skelton.

Skelton won by 152 winners to 142, which only served to make Hughes more determined, according to McCain.

“We’ve been through a couple of years together now and things just didn’t quite happen last year but there was no complaining, all he knows is how to get his head down and work even harder,” said the Cholmondeley handler.

“That’s what he’s done, those three are the greats of National Hunt racing so for him to be among them is wonderful.

“I’ve got a business to run and when I had the chance to have Brian as a stable jockey, it was a no-brainer. If I’m looking after my business and my owners properly, then it’s an absolute no-brainer.

“I’d like to think it’s working as well for him as it is for me, to ride 100 winners for one yard in a season is a big achievement.”

Hughes became the fastest northern-based jockey to reach a century of winners in a season when scoring on Dreams Of Home at Ayr on November 22.

Brian Hughes will regain the jockeys' title later this month
Brian Hughes will regain the jockeys’ title (Mike Egerton/PA)

He also became the first northern-based rider to record 150 winners, surpassing Jonjo O’Neill’s previous best of 149.

Yet he has been largely out of the spotlight on big days. He did not have a ride at the Cheltenham Festival or in the Grand National.

“Big winners are sometimes easier to ride, he gets a bit of stick for not being down at the big meetings but it’s through no fault of his own,” said McCain.

“That’s not his job, his job is with me and we’re a northern-based yard and I have owners who want to run their horses in the north of England.

“At the end of the day, he has to go where his rides are. We had one runner at Cheltenham and it rained too much and we couldn’t run, so he rerouted and went and rode winners in the north.

“We are employed by people in the north of England to run horses in the north of England and it’s unreasonable for people to think differently.

“He’s the biggest jockey in the north and with a bit of luck, we’re the biggest stable in the north, so the tie-up has been a no-brainer.”

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