How many winners did Brian Hughes ride in 2019/20?

In Britain, the 2019/20 National Hunt season was originally due to end on April 25, but concluded prematurely, on March 18, when the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) announced that all horse racing would be suspended until the end of April, at the earliest, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, Brian Hughes, who is based in Cleveland in North East England, rode 141 winners, 19 more than his nearest rival, Richard Johnson, to win the Jump Jockeys’ Championship for the first time. Indeed, Hughes became the first jockey other than Johnson or Sir Anthony McCoy to win the title since 1995/96 and the first northern-based jockey to do so since Jonjo O’Neill in 1979/80.

Originally from County Armagh, Northern Ireland, Hughes, 34, was Champion Conditional Jockey in 2007/08, but achieved his best seasonal tally as a fully-fledged professional in 2018/19, when he rode 146 winners. However, even in the abbreviated 2019/20 season, Hughes only fell five short of that total and, while Richard Johnson was sidelined for nearly six weeks in January and February with a broken arm, few could deny that the newly-crowned champion fully deserved his success. In fact, Hughes was already three winners ahead when Johnson sustained the injury – he was unseated from his mount, Westend Story, in a novices’ chase at Exeter on January 21 and subsequently kicked by a rival – and, with a career-best strike rate of 20%, his title win was hardly a fluke.

Has Richard Johnson ever won the Grand National?

In 2015/16, Richard Johnson finally emerged from the shadow of perennial champion Sir Anthony McCoy – to whom he had finished runner-up on no fewer than 16 occasions – to win the National Hunt Jockeys’ Championship for the first time. Indeed, Johnson went on to win the jockeys’ title again for the next three seasons running and, in 2019/20, was only three winners behind eventual winner Brian Hughes when sustaining a broken arm following a fall at Exeter in early January, which effectively ended his hopes of a fifth jockeys’ championship.

Champion conditional jockey in 1995/96, at the age of 18, Johnson has enjoyed a long, illustrious career. However, despite winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice, on Looks Like Trouble in 2000 and Native River in 2018, he has never won the Grand National. In fact, Johnson holds the record for the most rides in the Grand National, 21, and, less enviably, the most rides without a winner.

Johnson first rode in the infamous ‘Monday National’ in 1997, but was unseated when his mount, Celtic Abbey, blundered at The Chair, the penultimate fence on the first circuit. Since then, the closest he has come to winning the National was in 2002, when What’s Up Boys was eventually beaten a length-and-three-quarters by the rallying Bindaree, having held a three-length lead at the Elbow, halfway up the run-in. Johnson also rode the runner-up, Balthazar King, in the 2014 Grand National.

Who is, or was, the most successful jockey in the Grand National?

The most successful jockey in the history of the Grand National was George Stevens, who rode five winners of the renowned steeplechase during the nineteenth century. Stevens opened his account in 1856, aboard 25/1 chance Freetrader, trained by William Holman; the lightly-weighted seven-year-old took advantage of a mistake by his nearest rival, Minerva, at the final obstacle – in those days an artificial hurdle – to surge ahead and win by a length.

In the 1863 renewal of the Grand National, Stevens’ mount, Emblem, a 10/1 chance trained by Edwin Weever, knocked down the final hurdle, but was so far in front at the time that the mistake had little effect on the result. The seven-year-old eventually won by 20 lengths from Arbury, who would also finish second in the 1864 Grand National, behind 100/7 chance Emblematic – a six-year-old full sister to Emblem – also ridden by Stevens for the same connections. Emblematic and Arbury jumped the final flight upsides, but the former drew away in the closing stages to win easily by 3 lengths.

Stevens also recorded back-to-back victories in the Grand National in 1869 and 1870, aboard The Colonel, trained by R. Roberts. In 1869, as a six-year-old, The Colonel carried 10st 7lb to an easy, 3-length victory over Hall Court at odds of 100/7; the following year, despite the welter burden of 11st 12lb, he was sent off 7/2 favourite and prevailed by a neck from Primrose in a driving finish.

Was William Buick ever Champion Apprentice?

Nowadays, Norwegian-born William Buick is, effectively, the principal jockey for Godolphin in Britain, following the demotion of James Doyle from his previous position as first-choice jockey to the longest-serving Godolphin trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor, in September, 2016. Buick was signed by Godolphin, alongside Doyle, in November, 2014, and rode the first Derby winner in the famous royal blue silks, Masar, trained by Charlie Appleby, in 2018.

Prior to his Godolphin appointment, Buick had previously been stable jockey to John Gosden, succeeding Jimmy Fortune in January, 2010. He famously won the Group One Dubai Sheema Classic in Meydan, United Arab Emirates on Dar Re Mi on just his fourth ride for his new employer.

Buick began his riding career in 2006, at which point he was apprenticed to Andrew Balding, based in Kingsclere, near Newbury, Berkshire. In his debut season, Buick rode just ten winners, but increased his seasonal tally to 67 in 2007 and, in 2008, was involved in a ding-dong battle with David Probert, also apprenticed to Balding, for the Apprentice Jockey Championship. After 95 winners, Buick lost his claim in May, 2008, thereby giving Probert the chance to catch him. Andrew Balding said at the time, ‘They are at different stages of their careers. They aren’t taking each other on.’ Nevertheless, the title was not decided until the final day of the season and eventually shared by Buick and Probert, with 50 winners apiece.

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