All That Glitters Is Not Gold

Posted by Paul Moon in Blog | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


Richard Hughes started training horses in 2015 on a wave of unconstrained optimism from virtually everyone involved in horse racing. His elitist profile not only promised instant success, he was to bring new ideas to the racing fraternity, set new benchmarks and unearth new jockey talent - failure was not an option!


A year or so ago The Racing Horse perused the start of his training career and was confused. After a belligerent 'kick ass war cry' on how he was going to changes things we envisaged something progressive, unique and game-changing to come from him but what we found was an assemblage of mediocrity. We know his work and choices to date does not reflect his knowledge, intelligence and connections and that must surely change in the near future - or will it?


This morning the Richard Hughes Racing website unashamedly boasts: "Using his expert experience in the saddle and knowledge gained from working around the globe, Richard has made an EXCELLENT start to his training career." Really? He has NOT made an excellent start to this training career - he has made a bloody awful start!

 The figures for 2015 confirmed a bright start as our eyes were drawn to the 21% average strike-rate.

Age     Wins    Runs   Strike-Rate    Prizemoney   1pt stake
2YO       1      3        33%          £3,912.05     -1.43
3YO       7     28        25%         £32,741.14     +7.50
4YO+      1     12         8%         £14,841.55     -4.00
AW        9     36        25%         £50,821.34     +9.07
TURF      0      7         0%            £673.40     -7.00
TOTAL     9     43        21%         £51,494.74     +2.07


Age     Wins    Runs   Strike-Rate    Prizemoney   1pt stake
2YO       8     135        6%          £71,956       -78.46
3YO       3      40        8%          £21,986       -28.63
4YO+     25     181       14%          £162,213      -45.94       
AW       13     169        8%          £95,898       -110.32  
TURF     23     187       12%          £160,298      -42.72  
TOTAL    36     356       10%          £256,156      -153.04


Richard Hughes first full season must be regarded as a disappointment both in the number of winners and the consequential strike-rate. Given the elitism and status that surrounds Hughes, his intricate knowledge, volunteered help and promised ammunition he was surely expected to provide more even at this stage?

Looking at his AW statistics the 8% strike-rate in 2016 compares poorly with some average trainers. Seamus Durack (22%), Chris Dwyer (19%), Charlie Fellowes (19%), Stuart Williams (18%), Karen McLintock (18%), Robin Brisland (17%), Anthony Carson (16%) and Ed de Giles (15%) all fare better and represent just a number that he should be beating. Against these trainers his 8% looks paltry and certainly not an excellent start as advertised!


In fact in the 2016 AW season Hughes finished an embarrassing 199th based on strike-rate. 198 trainers had a better strike-rate than him and we found this startling! Racing on the Turf he fared better but he had to fare better - to fare worse would have been catastrophic. His 12% gave him 121st place but still less than rival trainers Iain Jardine (15%), Bernard Llewelyn (15%), Kristin Stubbs (14%), Jim Boyle (13%), Alan King (13%), David Loughlane (13%) and Declan Carroll (12%). What odds Jardine training more Turf winners (27) than Hughes (23). We accept it is only his second season but surely he has to be doing better than those mentioned? So how has Hughes done so far in 2017, is he on the improve?

Year    Wins    Runs   Strike-Rate    Prize money   1pt stake
2017     31     249       12%           £203,736     -71.96
2016     36     356       10%           £256,156     -153.04
2015      9      43       21%           £51,495      +2.07


The answer is no, he still plies his trade at a low 12% and that is too low. What about other areas, before he started training he promised faithfully to give younger jockeys a chance, so how is that going? We would suggest not too bad for an average joe. Of his 76 winners 15 of those have been ridden by apprentices so a 20% share and that means 80% have been ridden by professionals or leading amateurs. 68% of the winners have been ridden by Shane Kelly and respectfully we highlight one of Hughes problems going forward!


If we had a fledgling operation would we want a dubious Shane Kelly to front it or give us lift off? For us it is like having a team in the Premier League and making Joey Barton our first signing and club captain. The Racing Horse does not know what Kelly brings to the operation, he is neither tactically astute nor strong in the finish. Using another football analogy he is a Championship jockey and not Premier League. If he was Premier League he would play for Burnley. He must speak well to the trainer after a race or at home because he is more famous for his coups and goofs.


We ask if the reader had a 2yo ready to race and Tom Marquand (7st 13lbs), Kevin Stott (8st 7lbs) or Adam Kirby (8st 12lbs) were available who would you ask to ride? Kelly would not be our fourth choice! Are we being unfair? No, in the last five years the jockey has ridden 501 of them and scored just 36 winners for a meagre 7% strike-rate.


From a betting perspective when we see a trainer or jockey with those statistics we run for them thar hills! For the record and to keep things in context Marquand is 34-295 for 12%, Stott is 28-174 for 16% and Kirby is 119-737 for 16%. We could have given many many more examples.


Is Kelly improving approaching his 40th birthday? No. His last 10 years (past to present) show 69-83-74-77-70-79-64-51-59 and 33 so far this year. His last big winner was in the Temple Stakes Group 2 in May 2013 on Kingsgate Native. His figures at the top tracks are lamentable, Ascot is 4%, Epsom 4%, Newmarket 2% and York 5%. He has been banned for 12 months in the past for illegally passing on information (Rule 157) when riding Local Fancy to lose in the knowledge that it was being laid to lose! On 22nd January 2014 he rode 2 winners on the same day as part of a successful betting coup organised by gambler Barne Curley when betting on a 4-horse winning accumulator which netted £4,000,000.

The Racing Horse is clearly missing something. He has been used by top stables in the past but apart from a couple of rides for Ralph Beckett this season those have dried up and only B trainers use him now. In the paddock we have listened in after a ride to gauge the quality of the information passed on but to us it was best described as basic, he must ride good work!


We asked Richard Hughes why is Kelly the man he trusts to take the operation forward and will he be sticking with him given all the facts that we had supplied? The trainer answered immediately and wrote back: "Shane Kelly will continue to be stable jockey and the apprentices will also get a chance when suitable." We reminded Hughes this was at odds of what he told us on his retirement from riding when he said: "I have a pedigree to do this job (training). I am not going to be a 60-horses-a-year-man, have 40 winners and be comfortable. I could have got a gig with Channel 4 or as a racing manager for some big owner if I wanted that." His website echoed those sentiments when it said 'a proven horseman with the drive and ambition to deliver results at the top level' so our question is when does all this start?


The one statistic that we find hard to accept is that Richard Hughes has sent out 159 horses aged 2yo and won with 9 for a 6% strike-rate. Before he started training he said he did not JUST want precocious 2yos in his yard he also wanted those that would improve over the years (and we get that) but 6% and he gives these rides to a jockey whose lifetime average is 7%?

And finally...

Just one more thing, we found it interesting to find the 3yo Goodwood Crusader has won 5 of his 14 runs and the top earner for the stable this year winning £24,815 in total. Apprentice Finley Marsh has rode him to all his wins and is 5/6 on the gelding, Shane Kelly is 0-7 on the same horse and it was Finley who rode him on his seasonal debut when beaten. Not one of those winning races was an Apprentice or Conditional Race, there was a Maiden win and four Handicap wins in Class 4 or 5 at different tracks. Finally the apprentice is 7-30 for 23% when riding for Richard Hughes...



The Racing Horse is on record as saying that jockey bashing after a losing bet is futile, foolish, ignorant and unattractive and tells us more about the mentality of the individual than the ride of the jockey? This is not to say you cannot comment on an awful ride but it must come with some degree of articulation, fairness and relevance. Ultimately the responsibility of every bet ever wagered is the total responsibility of the bettor and NOT the jockey!

The above is an opinion based on facts and statistics and in our role of giving sound betting advice to our members...

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