Hughes proves he is real class
Ayr ride was one of the best I’ve seen
Brian Hughes is well established as not only one of the finest jockeys in the north but one of the very best in the country.
And he proved that on Saturday at Ayr with as good a ride as I’ve ever seen on Cyrus Darius, the well- backed favourite in the Guinness Handicap Chase.
The lightly raced eight- year- old was having his first run in a chase since winning a three- runner novice contest at Perth in September, 2015.
Since then, he has run in top- class hurdles including the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham earlier in the year. That was his last run before Saturday and, after running very well in the early stages, his jumping fell apart in the back straight and he hit three fences.
Hughesie eased him back, took him wide and coaxed him round the remaining jumps. Coming to the last, he was four lengths down but pinged it and took off up the run in to win by three quarters of a length from Arctic Gold.
It was a brilliant ride and afterwards trainer Malcolm Jefferson told me: “After his mistakes, Brian gave him time to settle. He started jumping well again and was able to use his speed after the last to win the race.”
Cyrus Darius will improve for the run and should develop into a class chaser.
The enterprising move by the Ayr Executive to up prize- money to £ 100,000 for Tennent’s Raceday paid off with a crowd of more than 4,000.
And it was good to see one of my favourite people on the jump scene, owner Raymond Anderson Green, winning the biggest prize of the day when his filly Martila gutsily won the Tennent’s Cup Scottish Champion Hurdle trial from Alphabetical in a thrilling finish.
The winner was headed on the run- in but got back up to prevail by a length and a quarter. Raymond said this race had always been the target after Martila finished second in it last year.
If the handicapper isn’t too hard on her, Martila could be one to follow off light weights in decent handicaps.
The valuable Magners Handicap Chase saw the Brian Ellison- trained, Henry Brooke- ridden Archive take the lead between the second- last and last to collar Upsilon Bleu and win comfortably.
This was the seven- year- old’s first outing for the Ellison yard having previously been trained by Henry de Bromhead in Ireland, and he looks a useful recruit.
Lucinda Russell saddled her second double at the track in five days when she won the first and last races with Miss Tiggy and Ask The Tycoon.
The former has battled back after serious injury and only pioneering surgery saved her life after she broke a hind leg last year and had three pins fitted to it. The brave mare battled all the way to the line under Derek Fox to win by a neck from the favourite Cockley Beck.
In the national hunt flat race, Lucinda’s Ask The Tycoon was having his first race under rules and the fouryearold took control in the last two furlongs to win by four lengths from Calach. Blair Campbell took the ride and this is another horse who should be winning again soon.
A son of Derby winner Kris Kin, Kris Spin won the three- mile Glenfiddich Handicap Hurdle for Kerry Lee and conditional jockey Richard Patrick, while Graeme McPherson saddled a winner with his first- ever runner at the track when Harry Hunt won the Gordon’s Pink Gin Handicap Chase.
Top Henry Brooke conjures an inspired jump from Archive Below Cyrus Darius ( No. 3) in the early stages of the Guinness Handicap Chase
Winning leap Martila ( right) with Craig Nichol in the saddle jumps the last on her way to winning the Tennent’s Cup on Saturday