It may be recalled that Hughes was suspended by RWITC stewards for six weeks for not following instructions of the trainer on a horse named Jacqueline Smile in February this year. Hughes’ appeal was also turned down, and he was forced to miss the start of the English flat racing season of 2012 as the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) refused to stay the ban imposed by RWITC.
The jockey in his autobiography published three months later, in a chapter titled “Mumbai Madness — the Indian Experience”, had termed the rule “stupid” and called the RWITC stewards “naive enough to act on gossip & innuendo”. Hughes also accused them of “burying their heads in the sand”, and therefore, “unable to get Indian racing in line with world racing”. He had concluded the chapter by terming his last visit to India as “a nightmare”, further declaring, “I can’t envisage me riding in India again.”
Apparently, Hughes, who won the coveted English flat championship for the first time this year, seems to have had a change of heart less than a year after penning those words, after he found himself unable to refuse a reportedly lucrative offer to ride for high profile trainer Pesi Shroff in the forthcoming Indian Classics at Mahalaxmi.
But when Hughes applied for a licence to ride at Mahalaxmi last month, the RWITC stewards put their foot down, and made clear they would consider it only if he rendered an unequivocal apology for his remarks which had received wide publicity all over the racing world. Hughes thus in a letter written to the club last Thursday, clarified that those comments were made “in the heat of the moment”, and added, “I hereby withdraw any remarks which have caused distress, and I unreservedly apologise to you all for any embarrassment and offence caused.”
The apology has finally cleared the deck for the arrival of the ace English jockey who is expected to ride filly Portia in the grade 1, Indian 1000 Guineas this Sunday at Mahalaxmi.