HORSE racing mourned “a proper gentleman” yesterday following the death of popular trainer Dessie Hughes, the father of champion jockey Richard Hughes, aged 71.
Hughes, who won the Champion Hurdle as a jockey before repeating the feat in a successful training career, had been fighting illness.
The Irishman rode Davy Lad to victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and then Monksfield in the Champion Hurdle – a race in which he saddled 2004 and 2005 winner Hardy Eustace.
“There’s gentlemen and then there was Dessie Hughes,” said jockey Conor O’Dwyer, who rode Hardy Eustace to both of those successes. “I’ve ridden for many good people during my career but Dessie really stood out as a proper gentleman.”
Champion trainer Willie Mullins called Hughes “a fantastic jockey” who “brought that same ability to his training career” and “the professional’s professional”.
■ Won 1977 Cheltenham Gold Cup with Davy Lad and the Champion Hurdle two years later on Monksfield
■ Enjoyed early training success with Miller Hill in 1982 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but best came after turn of century, with star pupil Hardy Eustace winning the 2003 Sun Alliance Hurdle and successive Champion Hurdles