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Richard Hughes left high and dry in jockey's championship race

Richard Hughes was forced to endure a highly frustrating day in his quest to catch Paul Hanagan in the race for the jockeys' championship.

Starting proceedings three behind the long-time leader, Hughes travelled to Nottingham in the afternoon for seven rides, making just Spring Secret count in the B&M Installations Handicap to reduce the arrears.

While Hanagan was not in action at a murky Colwick Park, the pair were due to go head-to-head under the floodlights at Kempton in the evening. However, adverse weather conditions forced helicopter problems for Hughes and he failed to make it to Sunbury for any of his six booked rides, having been left with an ultimately futile bid to travel by road. The only consolation for Hughes was that none of his intended mounts got home in front, and Hanagan never really looked like extending his lead.

The title race continues today at Lingfield and Kempton, with Hanagan and Hughes in action at both venues. Hanagan will start the day on 186 winners to Hughes on 184.

Hughes had originally been precluded from riding tomorrow as he would have completed his quota of nine meetings for the seven-day period from Saturday under the British Horseracing Authority-imposed threshold.

Events culminate at Doncaster on Saturday, where Hughes foregoes the big ride on Paco Boy at the Breeders' Cup in America to give himself every chance of overhauling Hanagan in South Yorkshire.

Meanwhile, Twist Magic is likely to have another crack at the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Paul Nicholls-trained eight-year-old turned in a superb weight-carrying performance at Exeter on Tuesday when second in the Haldon Gold Cup.

Although the five-time Grade One winner has failed to complete in the last two renewals of the Queen Mother, connections are hoping for a sharp turnaround in fortunes next March.

“I've been told by lots of people he doesn't go left-handed, but Cheltenham is definitely not off the agenda,” said co-owner Barry Fulton. “Other than the Festival, there's not a lot else for him at that time of the year, so it fits in well.

“We're still living on the memory of the Arkle when he travelled so well before falling.

“You can't say he doesn't handle Cheltenham, it's just he hasn't run very well there for quite a long time.”

Twist Magic will firstly strive to defend his crown in both the Tingle Creek at Sandown in December and the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot a month later.

Belfast Telegraph