Who can replace Richard Hughes as Goodwood’s riding king?

Richard Hughes on Toronado in last year's Sussex Stakes / Picture by Clive Bennett
Richard Hughes on Toronado in last year's Sussex Stakes / Picture by Clive Bennett
Jockey Harry Skelton on his way to victory with Roksana. Picture: Fontwell Park

Ton-up for happy Harry at Fontwell

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Richard Hughes is hanging up his riding silks at the end of this week’s Qatar Goodwood Festival – but who can take his place as the riding king of Goodwood?

Here, clerk of the course Seamus Buckley considers who are the pretenders to his crown, and asks whether anyone can be as dominant as Hughes has been in recent season.

I’ve seen many great jockeys in my time in Goodwood but to see how Richard Hughes rides the course has been a privilege and a pleasure, writes Buckley.

He always seems to get up on the line – taking the lead at the very last moment. He’s tall, lean and mean – and patient in the saddle.

Goodwood certainly suits his style of riding and we’ll be sad to see him retire, as will the punters here who back him and back him and so often win.

If I had to pick out a young jockey who has the potential to take over from him as our most successful one, I’d first pinpoint either George Baker or Adam Kirby.

Both remind me of him in terms of their build and both are already quite successful here.

George is 6ft tall and has had some good wins here, while Adam is only 26 but rides as though he has been doing it much longer.

Another I like to see in action here that people might not think of is Joe Fanning. He’s older than George and Adam and a northern lad but often rides here for Mark Johnston and as a result has ridden some very good horses.

Jim Crowley is a Sussex lad and is another who’s proof that the more experience you have of Goodwood, the better you will ride it.

It’s not a straightforward course at all – not one you can just take to straight away. You have to be patient, as Hughesie is.

What’s not obvious is that the last half or three-quarters of a furlong is slightly uphill – a test of stamina. At flatter courses you might be able to go to the front four or five furlongs out and stay there; at Goodwood it’s often not as easy.

And while you’re considering who’ll be eyeing up our champion jockey title, there’s one name you can’t overlook – Ryan Moore, another Sussex lad.

What I like about Moore is the way he uses his legs to kick and push – he’s one of very few who does. He had a terrific Royal Ascot and will be looking for similar success at our festival – he’d like to be top dog here even before Hughesie has retired.

Others to watch out for? There’s William Buick and James Doyle, now both riding for Godolphin, Pat Dobbs, who could well get more rides from Richard Hannon after Hughesie retires, and of the younger generation, I like the maturity Cam Hardie shows when he rides at Goodwood.

Oh and there’s a relative unknown called Frankie Dettori who some say will be rather good...

This article and much more can be read in our exclusive Glorious magazine - available at the racecourse during the festival or from the Observer office in Chichester, Chichester’s TIC or library and Good News newsagents off North Street

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