My Autobiograhy - Richard Hughes (MCR)Autobiographies by sportsmen and women can be a bit hit and miss (probably due to the fact they are by trade sportsmen and women and not writers, fair's fair like) and unless they have decent editorial help their lives on the pages can come across a lot duller than the actual experiences they have been through. Richard Hughes though already has a weekly column in The Racing Post and with the help of another of the papers writers in the shape of Lee Mottershead he has presented a good and well paced narrative.
Hughsie is only ten months older than me so a lot of the big races he has been involved in and some of the best horses he has ridden were a great stroll down memory lane for me as he pours light on the last twenty years of his professional career. But this isnt just about his career as a jockey, he also details his upbringing in Ireland and the priceless advice of his father that geared him up for a life in one of the most competitive lines of work in the world (His Dad being Dessie Hughes, jumps jockey and successful trainer) and also offered up here is some great tactical stuff about how jockeys approach and prepare for certain races and about the constant weight tightrope that is a big part of a jockeys life (Hughes is 5' 9" which is a lot taller than your average jock so keeping down to just over nine stone is a serious example of dicipline).
Richard Hughes is also a recovering alcoholic and explains his illness with honesty and clarity including the lows and highs of his drinking years and how he and his good friend, and if I'm honest one of my racing hero's, Johnny Murtagh, helped him through this period of his life due to their shared problems with the bottle. As usual with any book about horseracing in Britain there are some great stories about the inner workings and politics between owners and trainers etc. and as with most successful experienced jockeys Hughes has done stints as a young rider in Australia, America, and India and he recounts some weird and wonderful examples of how racing differs throughout the world.
I have always liked Richard Hughes for speaking his mind when it comes to things he is passionate about. Like the instance of the British Horseracing Authority bowing to an uneducated and unknowledgeable public pressure by altering aspects of the Grand National course which Hughsie succinctly and correctly summed up as, and I paraphrase here, "a fucking joke" and who also wrote very eloquently on the draconian super-rushed BHA legislation on the use of the whip, (extracts of his weekly column on this subject are included in the book). Overall, as sports biogs go I thought this was a good read by one of the best jockeys we have.
I would like to thank Mrs. D's Dad for buying it for me.
PS Coincidentally On the day I finished this book (last Saturday) Richard Hughes was crowned Champion Jockey of the 2012 Flat Season for the first time in his career with notching up 172 winners. 10/10 RH