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Local champion jockey Richard Hughes will start his training career sooner than expected

Richard Hughes and the championship trophyRichard Hughes and the championship trophyRichard Hughes will be moving away from his Marlborough home (well, Collingbourne Ducis really) sooner than planned - he wants to get started as a trainer this autumn.  Yet he still wants to be champion jockey - for the fourth year running.

In his Racing Post column (Friday, June 26), Hughes revealed he had completed his formal training to become a trainer, his yard just over the border at Danebury in Hampshire was ready and he was looking forward to buying his first horses at the July sales: "I cannot allow my training career to be jeopardised by my championship ambitions."

Hughes is currently on 37 winners for this flat race season.  That puts him level with  Silvestre de Sousa.  But Ryan Moore is ahead with 47 victories.

Following his Racing Post column, Richard Hughes is no longer odds on to win the championship.  He is now a 5-1 chance.

"The truth is, I absolutely cannot wait to train.  I had thought I would aim to kick off next year, but my thinking has changed and my ambition is to saddle my first runners in September or October."  He stresses he is still a committed jockey - and wants to win the championship: "...I'll continue to give 100 per cent to every horse I ride."

Hughes will be training on the site of Stockbridge racecourse.  This has a long and formidable history - but it is pretty ancient history.

The racecourse closed in 1898.  You can still see a small reminder of the abandoned Victorian stand which burnt down some decades ago.  Racehorses have been trained at Danebury for many years - its stables boast a Derby and a Grand National winner.  Though the Derby winner was Andover in 1836 and the Grand National winner was Playfair in 1888.

Hughes will be taking over Ken Cunningham-Brown's Danebury yard: "Ken would love nothing more than for Danebury to get back on the map and to one day rival Manton - and it could, because it really is that good."

It has 300 acres of grass gallops, a one-mile peat gallop, a one-mile woodchip, a round half-mile sand gallop and a five-furlong straight gallop going through the woods.

Richard Hughes already has promises from several owners that they will send horses to him.  He rounded off his column: "I hope you can tell how eager and excited I am.  I love being a jockey, but I know I will love being a trainer every bit as much."

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