Hughes hits bookies for seven

Hughes flying at Windsor

Today is a day for looking back. My first post took us back 25 years to the morning of the Great Storm in 1987. Here, we recall a feat in 1996, which at the time few people thought would ever be repeated. That was the day of Frankie Dettori’s Magnificent Seven at Ascot. An accumulator paid out at odds of 25,095/1, but had anyone included his last mount, Fujiyama Crest at his morning odds of 12/1 they would have been paid at more than 100,000/1.

Jockey Richard Hughes had a Magic Secret at Windsor yesterday when he equalled that achievement, although, unlike Frankie, he didn’t go through the card. The Pivotal Moment in his success came not with Sir Alex Ferguson’s horse in the opener, but when the course doctor signed Ryan Moore off for the day, allowing Hughes to pick up a spare ride in the final race.

As we’ve some historical references today, we should note that there is no Duke of Clarence to send Hughes a congratulatory tweet. The title died out, literally, when Prince Albert Victor of Wales failed to recover from a bout of pneumonia in 1892.

Hughes was clearly delighted with his achievement, and said afterwards, “What a day. It’s brilliant and I’m over the moon. It’s great to do it. I always thought I might do it at Windsor, which is my lucky track, and now I have.”

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I don’t suppose Hughes had any Woodie Guthrie on his I-player as he was travelling to Windsor. He could have listened to the song about the railroad brakeman East Texas Red, who met his end a year after kicking over the stewpot of a couple of men looking for a job. I guess that’s too much to hope for.

Hughes’ third winner, Embankment, was much closer to his name. This was a race of a little over a mile, which at Windsor starts in a little chute virtually on the banks of the Thames.

The bookies must have been ready to bunk(er) off by the time Links Drive Lady, the fifth winner went in. Hughes had racked up a 1,286/1 five timer, and his two remaining winners were to extend the odds to 10,168/1. The suggestion of the Thames overflowing with bookies’ tears were rather exaggerated, as the cost to them was thought to be around “only” £2 million, rather than the £40m they lost in 1996. Thank goodness for Monday afternoons!

Hughes was quick to recognise his reliance on others for his success, and with three winners for Richard Hannon, it’s not surprising that Hughes said he “would not be anywhere” without the support of that trainer.

It wasn’t entirely clear what was ailing Ryan Moore by 5.30 yesterday afternoon. He had ridden in several earlier races, but as he had flown back from Canada overnight, perhaps jetlag had caught up with him. Whatever the reason, the course doctor was happy there were medical reasons to sign him off from his final ride, and Hughes picked up the spare to good effect.

His attempt at a flying dismount in the paddock afterwards had neither the technical merit nor the artistic impression of Dettori, but the horse was aptly named. Mama Quilla, the Inca Goddess of the Moon, had surely been looking down benignly on Hughes all day as he finally settled the destination of this year's jockeys' championship.

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