With just over three months of the NH season remaining, Brian Hughes leads Richard Johnson by three winners of 114 to 111.
However, the UK’s reigning champion jockey’s hopes were dealt a huge blow on Tuesday afternoon at Exeter, when a fall left the four-time champion jockey with a suspected broken arm.
However, depending on the severity of his injury, Ruby was not inclined to write-off his chances just yet.
“I feel for Dicky,” said the 12-time Irish National Hunt Champion Jockey.
He was going all out to retain his jockey’s title and this is a kick in the teeth for him. However, it depends on where the break is. The closer the break is to the hand, the quicker it will heal. Hopefully, he’s back sooner rather than later.”
Prior to Johnson’s unfortunate fall, racing had enjoyed the tightest duel for the National Hunt Jockey’s title for over 20 years.
“You had the dominance of AP for 20 years and when he retired, ‘Dicky’ Johnson was the heir apparent and he took over for years. Now, Brian Hughes is really challenging him. There was three winners between them and it was hard to split them,” Walsh added.
“It’s different to the trainers’ championship as that comes down to prize money and it’s fought out on the big days. The jockeys’ championship in England is a battle every day of the week.
Year after year, Brian Hughes has improved and this season shows that a jockey from the north of England can give the jockey’s title race a rattle. The big difference for Brian this season, is the second-place finished that he’s converted to winners.
“I don’t know how he’s done it, but when you look at the stats, that’s the one big difference.”
“To me, this is a great story for horse racing and it will bring great interest to run-of-the-mill race meetings all the way through the season. You’ll find that all of a sudden in a few weeks’ time, we’ll all be watching the likes of Sedgefield and Carlisle and Fontwell, because we’ll all be wondering what they’re riding and where they’re going.
“We’ve seen it already where Dicky went to ride on December 26th & New Year’s Day. He’s chasing winners because it means a lot to him. Even Brian’s stats after Christmas have outscored Dicky’s stats so it’s a new challenge for Richard as well.
Dicky never managed to get close to AP when he was riding but if Richard can get back in the coming weeks, then hopefully we’re still in for a great