BRIAN HUGHES is ready to swerve Cheltenham Festival in a bid to hold on to his crown.
Champion jockey Hughes is up front in this year’s title race but he has two hot Harrys fired up behind.
Harry Skelton is the new title favourite after a four-timer at Southwell this week.
He is a best-priced 5-4 with Betfair, sitting just five behind Hughes’ 111 winners.
Harry Cobden, one win further adrift, is a best-priced 7-2 with Betfair. Hughes is 7-4 with Coral.
Hughes’ agent Richard Hale said: “We have one possible ride at Cheltenham, we could be there on the Tuesday — but if the entries are such his stables have runners at Sedgefield we’ll probably have to go there.
“We don’t have anything else booked but we’ll be going where we can get the rides, which will be the other meetings I guess.
“We can only do our best. Harry Skelton rides for his brother Dan and Harry Cobden has Paul Nicholls, we haven’t got a big stable behind us so we’ll chase what we can.
“Brian rides for a lot of people so we hope for a good run. We’ll certainly need it.”
Hughes finished top Jumps jockey last year for the first time in his career are recording 141 winners.
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He beat Richard Johnson, who notched 122 winners.
Hughes became the first champion jockey not named Johnson or AP McCoy in 25 years, stretching back to Richard Dunwoody, as the duo monopolised racing.
He has previously had three Cheltenham Festival winners, the most recent being Mister Whitaker in 2018.
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