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Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

'He was tiny and a bit claustrophobic but he was my ideal horse'

Former champion Richard Hughes on his partnership with top sprinter

Sole Power and Richard Hughes: the perfect match
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Sole Power was a horse I had wanted to ride for ages.

Johnny Murtagh struck gold when he got on him. When Johnny retired the connections understandably went for Ryan Moore, but Ryan wasn't available for the King's Stand in 2014. As we shared the same agent my name was put forward. Luckily for me, it was agreed I would take over.

We won a King's Stand, Nunthorpe and Al Quoz Sprint together, but Ascot was always his best track because it's stiff and horses running up a hill will stop. That meant I was able to ride what for him was the perfect race.

When he was younger he was very fast. As he got older he had a bit less early speed. Through the first half of a race you had to let him warm up and find his stride. Then, when the pace slackened, he would take off. That's what he did at Ascot in that famous King's Stand and why the track was made for him.

At York I didn't think I would win a furlong and a half out because at that point he still hadn't come alive under me. I had to bury him again to find him a spark. Then, inside the final furlong, he came good because, with York being such a flat track, it was only then the pace slackened.

Sole Power was a follower. I learned in Dubai he was actually also a bit claustrophobic.

Although you had to ride him out the back and with cover, he didn't like to be crowded or bullied in amongst horses. That's why he never did so well in Hong Kong. It also explains why when he was shown a gap he went through it so quickly.

Another thing about him was his size. He was tiny. That meant he was hugely disadvantaged, as sprinters in Group 1 races carry so much weight. After riding him I said I would never knock a small horse again.

Being Sole Power's jockey gave me a massive kick. When I rode him I was living on the edge. The way he had to be ridden really allowed me to show what I could do as well. He was my ideal horse.

He was a follower. I learned in Dubai he was actually also a bit claustrophobic
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