The awards season is upon us, with the Stud and Stable Staff Awards and French Horse of the Year Awards both taking place in the last day or two. Rather than focus on the individual winners, I thought we would look at what the people presenting the trophies had to say about their hopes and aspirations for the Flat racing season ahead.
First up was champion jockey Richard Hughes, hotfoot back from riding in India, thankfully free from the intervention of the stewards this time. Hughes partnered Clare Balding at the Stud and Stable Staff Awards in London yesterday. Hughes was clear that he does not want to be thought of as a lucky winner of the jockeys’ title, and said, therefore, that his priority was to retain the title – though he had a target number of winners in mind as well.
He said of his title, “It was a relief, definitely a relief to get it done. I always believed I could do it, but I’m a slow learner, so it took 20 years to get it done. Hopefully I can do it again. I’d like to retain it once, just in case they call me a lucky winner.” That won’t be the case; his winning total of 172 last year saw him take the crown with 41 winners more than closest rival Silvestre de Sousa, and that in a season in which Hughes didn’t get under way until a month after everyone else.
Nonetheless, he was looking for improvement, saying, “My goal for this season is 200 winners.” He has his first UK rides of 2013 at Lingfield and Kempton tomorrow.
Over in Paris, the Horse of the Year Award took place on Sunday. Racing journalists named Clive Cox’s Reckless Abandon as last season’s top two year old. Cox was not at the ceremony himself, and had no acceptance speech prepared. He did speak yesterday, however, and the message from his Lambourn yard was that although Reckless Abandon still has an entry in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, he would not have that race as his early season target.
Cox said, “Reckless Abandon has wintered very well and has clearly strengthened from two to three. I couldn’t be more pleased with him. Being over a mile, the Guineas is more of an insurance than a positive target at this stage.” At the moment, then, it seems that his game will be in the top sprints, which is no unreasonable for a colt that won all five of his starts, four at Group level, in his first season
Then the question of who will ride Reckless Abandon came up. Adam Kirby was on board for his first two runs, but Gerald Mosse took over when Cox sent reckless Abandon to France for the Prix Robert Papin and the Prix Morny. The trainer was non-committal about who he would call on, merely noting, “There aren’t any riding plans being discussed at this stage. We’re delighted to have been able to call on Gerald’s services, and Adam has an association with the yard as well.”