In the end it took a change of mind and a simple apology for Richard Hughes to obtain a licence to ride in India this winter. Early this year he had twice fallen foul of the stewards there, and although his first ban was overturned after an appeal the second ban of 50 days delayed the start to his UK season.
When he was stood down worldwide for failing to follow the race riding instructions given to him by the trainer of Jacqueline Smile, Hughes said he would not go back to India again. That seemed even more likely when he included some forthright comments on the way racing is run there in his autobiography “A Weight Off My Mind.”
He wrote, “I felt like they were out to get me and that they wanted me to leave. As a result of the way I was treated, I do not imagine that I will want to ride in India again. At the moment India is a racing nation where regulation is based on rumour. And that makes it look ridiculous.”
Now, Hughes again wants to return to India, as the Indian Classics are about to start with the BCCL-Procam Indian 1000 Guineas on Dec 16 where Hughes is expected to ride trainer Pesi Shroff’s filly Portia. For this, Hughes needs the Royal West India Turf Club to give him the nod again for his riding licence.
The RWITC stewards asked for an unconditional apology from Hughes, which he emailed to them last Thursday.
At the weekend, the RWITC accepted the apology, with Stipendiary Steward Riyaz Khan seeming to welcome him back with open arms. He said, “The application was considered on Sunday and Richard Hughes is now licensed. He had a great season in England and we are glad to have him back.”
In previous years Hughes has spent much of the winter in India, but this season plans to ride only for trainer Kushroo Dhunjibhoy, and so will fly out only when required. As he acknowledged, he’s lucky to get the chance.