Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Richard Hughes set to return despite broken back

Ready to rock: Champion jockey Richard Hughes suffered broken back 12 days ago but aims to be back riding this month

Champion jockey Richard Hughes aims to be back in action at Sandown on April 25 despite breaking his back in a fall in Dubai late last month.

The 41-year-old, son of Curragh-based trainer Dessie Hughes, was riding in the Sheema Classic on March 29 when his mount Mars crashed through a rail, throwing Hughes over the top.

Hughes had a belated scan when he returned to England which revealed he had broken a vertebrae.

"I thought it was just a bit sore," said Hughes.

"I didn't seem bad enough to have an X-ray. If I hadn't gone for it, I'd be riding now."

"When I came back here (to Wiltshire) I went to see a specialist, hoping to ride this weekend, but he said if you take a chance and have a fall you won't be walking back in here," he added.

"So I took his advice and I will take an extra couple of weeks.

"I'll have another X-ray on April 23 and as long as that is clean, I'll ride on two days later."

Hughes was crowned champion jockey for the second successive time in November.

He also became the first jockey to ride more than 200 winners – 208 – in a British Flat season since Kieren Fallon in 2003.

Hughes was initially told he would be out of action for three months.

The new Flat season continued to gather pace yesterday when Flying Officer capped a 153-1 treble for trainer John Gosden and jockey William Buick with a gritty triumph in the totepool EBF Stallions Barry Hills Further Flight Stakes at Nottingham.

The full brother to 2007 St Leger winner Lucarno was having only the fourth run of his career, but overcame his relative inexperience to take Listed honours over an extended mile and three-quarters.

Earth Amber, second 12 months ago, made the 11-4 joint-favourite work hard to score by half a length, with long-time leader High Jinx (also 11-4) rallying to claim third.

"I'm delighted with him. He's been off since June last year. He got hurt when he won that race (at Windsor), it's taken a long time to get him back, but he's done absolutely nothing wrong today," Gosden said.

"There was no pace, but William was conscious about it and was in a position to do something about it," he added.

"His brother won the St Leger so we know he stays well. Let's hope we can step him up to two miles now."

Gosden continued: "I think the Henry II (at Sandown) well into May would be a nice gap for him."

Gosden and Buick's other wins came in the two divisions of the totejackpot Go For The Big One Maiden Stakes, with Sacred Act and Gm Hopkins respectively.

Sacred Act (10-1) made a strong impression with a winning start to his career in division one as he swept to a cosy length and three-quarters success.

"He was too immature last year to be racing, then I didn't want to run him on the all-weather so I waited. He really enjoyed it and did it well," said Gosden.

Gm Hopkins (11-4) opened his account with a two length verdict over Lacan in division two.

"He showed a lot of talent first time out at Newbury then he hurt himself at Newmarket," he said.

"It's been a long road back and it's lovely to see him win in good style," he added.

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