Brian Hughes – Champion Jockey

Features | 20th April 2022

Brian Hughes will be crowned Champion Jockey for the second time, but what goes into earning that accolade?


Brian Hughes considered that he had failed last season. 

The 36‐year‐old matched the 142 he notched up to become champion jump jockey the previous year despite losing the first two months due to the covid shutdown. The trouble was, his tally – four short of his then personal best – was not enough to retain his jockeys’ title crown as Harry Skelton outgunned him in a titanic battle in the final weeks. 

The rather harsh self‐criticism that made him feel like he had failed clearly made Brian even more determined not to let anyone stand in his way as he set out to regain the title he snatched from four‐time champion Richard Johnson in 2020. As he canters towards victory in the race to be champion jockey, miles clear of the rest, there’s unlikely to be any let up. 

He is within touching distance of joining the 200 club. If he does hit the magical mark of a double‐century of winners, then he will be in exalted company. Only Richard Johnson, Sir Tony McCoy and Peter Scudamore have ended the season with such a tally. 

A Busy Schedule

It has come with a combination of incredible skill, burning desire, single‐minded focus and relentless hard graft. He stands streets clear of last year’s winner Skelton and Sam Twiston‐Davies in the champion jump jockeys’ title race and a glance at the stats makes it easy to see why. Brian has ridden in more than 900 races this season. 

Twiston‐Davies has been the next busiest having just passed the 700 mark. Brian has dominated the northern jumps racing scene. Together with main backer Donald McCain they have been an unstoppable force throughout the season. The pair have combined for more than 100 winners – a quite incredible feat from both jockey and trainer. 

That’s more winners than most of the other jump jockeys have ridden all season. Nicky Richards, Charlie Longsdon, Ann Hamilton and Brian Ellison have all chipped in to provide Brian with plenty of winning rides.

All the skills

The champion jockey‐elect has ridden winners for 33 different trainers throughout the season and he clearly realises, where the title race is concerned, the value of a winner at Sedgefield exactly matches the worth of a winner at Cheltenham. 

He swerved the Festival this year in search of easier pickings but it’s hard to imagine he won’t add to his three victories at jump racing’s biggest meeting with McCain sure to increase his quality after such a tremendous season. 

In Northern Irishman Brian he has the perfect pilot. The former champion conditional jockey, who started out as a teenage Flat jockey before his weight became an issue, is a superb judge of pace and exceptional at presenting horses at obstacles. 

Combine those skills with an obsessive will to win, drive and determination then it’s easy to see why Brian is coasting towards his second jump jockey’s championship title.