By Simon Jackson.
The award for the leading trainer at this year’s Cheltenham Festival will be named in honour of the late jockey and trainer Dessie Hughes who died last year.
Hughes, the father of three-time champion flat jockey Richard Hughes, was one of a select band of horsemen who both rode and trained the winners of feature races at the Cheltenham Festival.
As a jockey Dessie Hughes won eight races at the Festival that included the Gold Cup on Davy Lad, the Champion Hurdle on Monksfield and the World Hurdle on Bit Of A Jig.
His added another six victories as a trainer which included two Champion Hurdles with Hardy Eustace and a Triumph Hurdle with Our Conor.
Hughes’ daughter Sandra took over the running of his stable in Ireland after his death last November aged 71. The Hughes’ family said they are delighted that the trainers’ prize, The Irish Independent Dessie Hughes Leading Trainer Award, has been named in his honour.
“Myself, Mum and Sandra are delighted that Dad will be remembered at this year’s Festival with The Irish Independent Dessie Hughes Leading Trainer Award,” said Richard Hughes, who last season won his third successive flat jockeys’ championship.
“He had so many winners at the course, both as a trainer and a jockey. I will always remember those big races he won, including the Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle as a rider and the Champion Hurdle, twice with Hardy Eustace, as a trainer.
“The whole family are very much looking forward to The Festival and we would like to thank The Irish Independent.”
David Courtney, Irish Independent Sports Editor, added: “We are thrilled to be able to commemorate Dessie Hughes by putting his name to the Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award.
“He was such a respected and influential figure in the world of National Hunt racing that we felt it fitting he would be remembered on the biggest stage of all at Cheltenham, where he created so many wonderful memories.”
Dessie Hughes winners at The Cheltenham Festival
Eight wins as a jockey:
1975 Davy Lad – Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle
1976 Parkhill – Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle
1976 Bit Of A Jig – Ladbrokes World Hurdle
1977 Mac’s Chariot – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
1977 Tip The Wink – Racing Post Arkle
1977 Davy Lad – Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup
1979 Monksfield – Stan James Champion Hurdle
1979 Chinrullah – Racing Post Arkle
Six wins as a trainer:
1982 Miller Hill – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
2003 Hardy Eustace – Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle
2004 Hardy Eustace – Stan James Champion Hurdle
2005 Hardy Eustace – Stan James Champion Hurdle
2005 Oulart – Pertemps Final
2013 Our Conor – JCB Triumph Hurdle
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