Brian Hughes has officially been confirmed as the champion jockey for the 2019/20 season.
Following the suspension of horse racing until the end of April, the Professional Jockeys’ Association, National Trainers’ Federation and the Racehorse Owners’ Association have jointly confirmed that each of the current leaders of the 2019/20 Jumps Championships (which had been set to conclude on Saturday 25th April) will be declared the winners of their respective title races.
Hughes had established a commanding lead in the ockeys' title race, with 141 wins to defending champion Richard Johnson’s 122.
He said: "It has always been a dream of mine to become Champion Jockey, so to have finally achieved it is fantastic. It is obviously a little disappointing that we haven’t been able to see out the season as we were all looking forward to doing so and there were some big race days to look forward to, but current circumstances are out of all our hands, and racing’s no different.
"I’ve had another great season with 141 winners and I cannot thank all the trainers, owners, stable staff and my family who have continued to support me and I hope everyone is staying safe at this time. Like everyone else, I can’t wait to get back out there riding and will be doing everything I can to keep hold of the title next season."
Johnson added: "Brian has been in terrific form all season and was really able to open up a gap between himself and the rest of us chasing him. It is a huge moment for any rider to become Champion Jockey and I know that all of us in the weighing room will look forward to formally congratulating Brian when the presentation is made to him later in the year.”
Hughes also lands the Northern Jockey title* which is awarded to the jockey with the most wins at courses north of Market Rasen during the Championship period, having secured a staggering 110 of his overall 141 wins during the season at those tracks.
In the Champion Conditional title race, Jonjo O’Neill Jnr claimed the prize having notched up 61 winners and finishes the campaign in tenth place overall in the main championship.
A brilliant season for the 22-year-old saw him win a hat trick of Graded races in February, including with Native River in the Grade 2 Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury Racecourse on Saturday 8th February, and he finishes the season 20 wins clear of second-placed Ben Jones.
He said: "I feel very lucky that this year has gone so well. It’s all thanks to my main supporters, my Dad and the Tizzards, who have been so good to me this season. I’m delighted to have won the Conditional Championship, it’s what I set out to do at the start of the season and there’s an illustrious roll of honour - so it’s nice to be included on it."
The champion trainer title, decided on prize money, goes to Nicky Henderson who, in the process lands the sixth championship of his career having first won the title in 1985/86.
He secured £2,533,862 in prize money - £192,550 ahead of 11-time Champion Trainer, Paul Nicholls – and trained 118 winners, 22 more than his long-time rival.
Of these, 15 were graded victories, the first coming on Saturday 9th November at Wincanton Racecourse with Fusil Raffles in the Grade 2 Unibet Elite Hurdle. Henderson went on to land four coveted wins at the Cheltenham Festival, presented by Magners, including with Epatante in the Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy – a record eighth win in the race for the trainer.
Henderson said: "It’s a great pity that we haven’t been able to see the season out and it looked like the race was going down to the wire again at Sandown Park. But all of us know that the current situation is bigger than racing and something that everyone in the country is having to deal with and face.
"I would like to thank all of the owners that have enabled us to win this year’s Trainers’ Championship – it really is a testament to them and the horses that we have in our yard. Seven Barrows as a team are extremely proud of this title and my staff have been amazing, as they always are, and are doing everything they can to make sure all the horses are looked after during this time."
"I know that they and everyone else in the sport will be raring to go with the next season, as soon as it’s safe to start racing again.”
The Champion Jumps owners' title is also decided by prize money won, and sees JP McManus land the title once more after winning £2,137,844 – a huge £1,390,508 ahead of second-placed owners, Simon Munir & Isaac Souede.
McManus’ famous gold and green silks have passed the finishing line first on 79 occasions this season with three of his stars, Defi Du Seuil , Epatante and Champ, each recording a hattrick of victories, with the latter two also contributing to McManus’s incredible haul of seven wins at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.
All racing in Great Britain is suspended until 30th April. When jump racing does next resume, which is not scheduled to be until July, it will be as part of the 2020/21 Championship season.