Brian Hughes became only the fourth jump jockey to ride 200 winners in a season after steering Dreams Of Home to victory at Perth on Wednesday.
Ahead of being crowned champion jockey for the second time at Sandown this weekend, Hughes joined Sir Anthony McCoy, Richard Johnson and Peter Scudamore as a double centurion with just four days of the campaign remaining.
It has long since been inevitable that the 36-year-old would regain the title he lost to Harry Skelton last term, having ridden nearly 100 winners more than the reigning champion and Sam Twiston-Davies.
He became the first northern-based jockey to ride 150 winners in a season when booting home a four-timer at Carlisle in February and has had his eyes firmly fixed on the 200 ever since.
After moving within one of the milestone with a double at Sedgefield on Tuesday, Hughes headed to Scotland with a strong book of five rides.
And while he pulled up Laffite and finished last of five on Uncle Alastair in the first two races, he made it third time lucky aboard Dreams Of Home in the Bob Nelson Capercaillie Handicap Chase.
Sent straight to the lead, Donald McCain’s 6-4 favourite had most of his rivals on the stretch early in the home straight and had just enough in the tank to hold Coach Carter at bay by half a length.
Hughes paid tribute to his agent Richard Hale and admitted his aim at the start of the year was 100 winners, not 200.
He told Great British Racing: “It’s not something I ever thought I could achieve. It wasn’t a target (at the beginning of the season).
“It’s always the target to ride 100 winners and 100 winners is a fair achievement, so it just shows the luck I’ve had and the support I’ve had from the trainers to get to double that.
“My agent has done a fantastic job getting me on the horses I ride because he organises everything day to day for me, so without him I’d be struggling.”
Hughes is nearly 100 winners ahead of Sam Twiston-Davies in the jockeys’ championship and after losing his title to Harry Skelton last term, the rider admitted the defeat gave him plenty of motivation for this year.
He added: “Last season hurt a lot to get beat. This season I set out with an intention and I gave it a good shot. I owe a huge thanks to everyone’s support.
“I’ve just got my head down, I haven’t been complacent all year and I won’t start this week. I am hungry for it, last season fuelled me more so. I am more determined and more focused on taking every opportunity.”
Hughes’ title triumph came in a season that was slightly truncated due to the coronavirus pandemic and he added: “I will appreciate winning more (this time), not that I didn’t appreciate it the first time.
“That was the disappointing part of that season, we didn’t see the season out and I felt I had a point to prove, that I was good enough to be champion jockey.”
The Perth crowd gave Hughes an enthusiastic reception, with his fellow riders and valets applauding him back into the winner’s enclosure.
He told Racing TV: “I’m not a very emotional person but I must admit that touched me. Everyone came out and cheered me in and I was a bit taken aback to be fair.
“I really appreciate people’s good wishes and a lot have wished us well the last couple of weeks and here today – I really appreciate it.”
Scudamore and McCoy were on hand to witness Hughes’ victory, along with Flat legend Willie Carson and Skelton – with all five lining up for a photo.
Hughes added: “I don’t buy too many pictures – but I think I’ll have to buy that one!”
Hale believes Hughes has yielded the rewards for his hard work this term.
He said: “He’s a thorough professional, his appetite for it is amazing and he’s got what he deserves.
“His commitment to it is second to none – 200 winners is a great achievement and it’s so hard to do.
“Things have been in his favour this year with the weather and Donald’s form but even so, it’s still an amazing achievement.
“Winners fuel him and hopefully more big winners will come too as they really give him a kick.
“He’ll be almost embarrassed, knowing Brian, to see his name next to the others (Scudamore, McCoy, Johnson) but he deserves it – I’m as pleased as punch for him.”