BRIAN Hughes, who rides regularly for James Ewart Racing of Langholm, has been crowned champion jump jockey for the first time in his career.
Hughes, 34, who is based in North Yorkshire, also won the Northern championship.
His tussle for the prize with Richard Johnson during the unfinished 2019/20 season ended when the British Horseracing Authority announced the sport’s worst-kept secret on Monday.
Hughes rode 141 winners over the course of the season to beat defending champion Johnson, who finished 19 adrift with 122 winners.
Hughes told the Racing Post: “It has always been a dream of mine to become champion jockey so to have finally achieved it is fantastic.
“It’s obviously a little disappointing that we haven’t been able to see out the season.
“We were all looking forward to doing so and there were some big race days to look forward to but circumstances are out of our hands and racing’s no different.
“I’ve had another great season with 141 winners and I cannot thank all the trainers, owners, stable staff and my family who have continued to support me.
“Like everyone else, I can’t wait to get back out there riding and will be doing everything I can to keep hold of the title next season.”
James Ewart’s partnership with Hughes goes back more than a decade when they were introduced by Irish bloodstock agent Bobby O’Ryan.
Hughes had just come over from Ireland as a conditional jockey – he won that championship in 2008 – and O’Ryan encouraged Ewart to use Hughes.
Ewart said: “When he won the conditional championship, he rode most of our winners that year, too.
“He has ridden all our winners this year, except one. He is the best in the north by a long, long way.
“If he’s riding your horse, you know you’ll get the best possible result and I try to give him as much support as possible.
“There are lots of things I like about Brian. What I admire most is his consistency.
“All of us have our good and bad days and most of us make plenty of mistakes.
“Brian is not like that and that’s why he’s champion jockey and why he’s so good. He doesn’t make mistakes.
“He rides with a level of finesse which has been compared to Paul Carberry. He virtually never makes mistakes in races. He’s always in the right place at the right time.”
Jonathan Garratt, managing director of Kelso Races Ltd, said: “Brian’s work ethic is second to none and he really deserves this success.
“Although the season was unfortunately curtailed, he was at Kelso right up to the end, scoring aboard Proper Ticket for Fergal O’Brien at the meeting we staged behind closed doors on March 16.
“He was also successful in Kelso’s most prestigious race of the season, the Grade 2 William Hill Premier Novices Hurdle, riding Clondaw Caitlin for Ruth Jefferson.
“He’s ridden winners at so many courses for so many different trainers. It’s great for everyone involved in jump racing in northern Britain.”