The Brian Hughes Blog

Equine flu, a ‘Jockey Of The Month’ award, Ayr, Leopardstown and the Cheltenham Festival all come under the microscope in the latest bulletin from the top jockey.

Brian Hughes

There’s nowhere else to start this week but with the news all racing is suspended for a minimum of six days in Britain following an outbreak of equine flu.

It’s never ideal to be held up, especially with Cheltenham looming, but perhaps the best piece of news is that while I don’t know the full veterinary implications it is not life threatening.

That we have to stop racing for a few days is secondary when it comes to the health of our horses, and credit should go to the British Horseracing Authority for their swift action and great work in identifying and containing the reported outbreak – there’s no question they are rightly taking this very, very seriously.

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We should also thank trainer Donald McCain for flagging it, he’s a fine man and has handled this very well, as well as the vets and stable staff for whom this will have meant a lot of extra work.

Let’s hope we can get back racing as soon as possible.

On a lighter note, I’d like to use my blog to offer a big thank you to all those who voted for me in an online poll run by Great British Racing to determine their January ‘Jockey Of The Month’ competition.

It’s always pleasing to receive recognition, January having been the month I went through the 1,000 winner mark in British jumps racing (time flies!), but what’s especially important is the fact it directly benefits Racing Welfare, a charity which means a great deal to me and one I’m keen to support whenever opportunity knocks.

Their long-term partnership with FansBet makes my ambassadorial role for the latter an obvious one where I’m concerned – it’s up to you if you want to bet – but if you do it makes sense to at least consider doing so with a company who promise to share their net profits with beneficiaries of their customers’ choice, Racing Welfare being one of them.

Daily Horse Racing Betting Pointers

Their work in our industry is vital, but that aside, my award for January also means I get to select a charity of my choice to receive a payment of £500.00 from Great British Racing – no contest, Racing Welfare every time.

I should also mention the two other jockeys nominated for the award, which was very close when the votes were totted up – Tom Bellamy and Danny Cook are both fine riders and would have been deserving winners, so to beat them by a whisker was enjoyable.

On the track, prior to the flu outbreak stopping play it was briefly a pleasure to see the weather relent and get back out there.

My week consisted of a trip to Market Rasen on Tuesday where it was touch and go with an 11am inspection before they got the go ahead to race, followed by a book of five rides at Ayr on Wednesday.

Easily the standout has to be the huge jump Glittering Love gave me to seal the deal at the final fence in the novices’ handicap chase there – his trainer Nicky Richards is a great character and a big supporter of mine – so it’s always good to help his team get a winner.

The Brian Hughes Blog

Glittering Love literally showjumped the final fence with a couple of rivals trying to erode his lead, but he’s now three from three over fences as well as having won four Point-to-Points.

Life will get harder for him when the handicapper reassesses his achievements but he’s still only seven and on a roll, hopefully there’s more to come from a horse who is a pleasure to ride.

With no racing to look forward to this weekend I’ll instead round off by looking back to Leopardstown last weekend, where I really enjoyed watching Apple’s Jade turn on the style in the Irish Champion Hurdle.

She’s a superb mare and has proved time and time again that she has both speed and stamina.

That said, she was entitled to beat Supasundae and if you pushed me hard I’d still marginally opt for Buveur D’air when it comes to the crunch in the Champion Hurdle in just over four weeks’ time. He’s been there, done it, and has his double Champion Hurdle winning experience in the bank.

Lastly, a big thumbs up to the Warren Greatrex team for their win with the very tough mare La Bague Au Roi in the Flogas Novice, the only UK-trained winner on a great two days of sport. As they mentioned post-race, Cheltenham maybe isn’t her cup of tea, but she’ll be some sight at Aintree where the flat track will really suit. Keep her in your thoughts for the second weekend of April where she’ll be hard to beat if turning up in similar form.

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Horse Racing Betting Tips Daily – Conor O’Hehir

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