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Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Northern star Hughes looks set for the very top

Peter Scargill on what to take out of the weekend action

Definitly Red: has plenty in his favour for Aintree
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Excellence has become the norm for jockey Brian Hughes, so much so that a four-timer from the rider at Kelso was trumpeted as ordinary.

But it is extraordinary and so is Hughes. The dominant rider in the north sits second in the jockeys' championship and his ability in the saddle and drive for winners means it is unlikely he will he happy with that position.

While he remains a good chunk of winners behind reigning champion Richard Johnson, Hughes may well prove to be his biggest danger in the years to come, and a winner or two for the rider at the big festivals at Cheltenham and Aintree would be no less than he deserves.

Decorated Knight just gets up to beat Folkeswood, Muffri'Ha (far side) and Shanshaawes in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta at Meydan

Definitly Red looks a serious Grand National contender

Really what is there not to like about this horse for the Randox Health Grand National?

He is as strong a stayer as you will find, is a safe and solid jumper of fences and he will be carrying less than 11st around Aintree.

His win in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster was secured a long way out, and despite The Last Samuri closing in the final stages, Definitly Red was much the best.

Decorated Knight is on the march

Very good horses can quicken and that is what wins them races. Decorated Knight can accelerate with devastating effect and that can be a serious weapon this year.

He did not enjoy anything like a perfect trip in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta, but once he was extricated from the pocket he was in he showed a mighty change of speed to run down Folkswood.

Decorated Knight got better and better under the care of trainer Roger Charlton last year, and he will be a player in Group 1 races around the world in 2017.

De Vries shows great tactical awareness

Postponed's return to action in the Dubai City Of Gold at Meydan was supposed to serve as an easy victory en route to the Sheema Classic on World Cup night.

Instead, the long odds-on shot was toppled by Prize Money, and the knives were quickly out for Postponed's jockey Andrea Atzeni as he found plenty of traffic in the home straight.

While if he was offered the chance again Atzeni would probably chart a different course, credit needs to be given to Adrie De Vries on Prize Money.

De Vries cleverly kept Atzeni in a pocket and gained enough of an advantage to hold on by a neck. The best horse in the race was probably Postponed, but De Vries showed excellent racecraft in the saddle.

Young riders flourishing for Paul Nicholls

The decision made by Paul Nicholls to invest in a group of talented young riders is looking increasingly shrewd.

Nick Scholfield, Sean Bowen and Harry Cobden were on the mark for the champion trainer, while the likes of Sam Twiston-Davies, Stan Sheppard and Jack Sherwood have also excelled this season.

Cobden has been particularly impressive and was at it again with an excellent ride on Just A Par in the veterans' race at Newbury.

The decision made by Paul Nicholls to invest in a group of talented young riders is looking increasingly shrewd
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