Brian Hughes has landed his first champion jump jockey title after official confirmation came on Monday from the Professional Jockeys’ Association, National Trainers Federation and Racehorse Owners Association that Hughes has been crowned the winner.

Hughes, who had been vying with Richard Johnson for the accolade before the season was curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic, notched 141 wins against Johnson’s 122 wins and becomes the first northern-based jockey to take the title since Jonjo O’Neill 40 years ago.

His big wins this season included guiding the Brian Ellison-trained Forest Bihan to success in the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase at Aintree and landing the Grade 2 Summit Juvenile Hurdle on Navajo Pass for trainer Donald McCain and owner Tim Leslie.

Hughes built on the opportunity presented to him when Johnson broke his arm in a fall at Exeter in January and while Johnson returned just 37 days later, Hughes had amassed a lead of 19 winners – a deficit Johnson was unable to overturn.

“It has always been a dream of mine to become champion jockey, so to have finally achieved it is fantastic,” said Hughes. “It is obviously a little disappointing that we haven’t been able to see out the season as we were all looking forward to doing so and there were some big racedays to look forward to, but current circumstances are out of all 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 and I hope everyone is staying safe at this time.

“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.”

Johnson said: “Brian has been in terrific form all season and was really able to open up a gap between himself and the rest of us chasing him. It is a huge moment for any rider to become champion jockey and I know that all of us in the weighing room will look forward to formally congratulating Brian when the presentation is made to him later in the year.”

Barry Geraghty, in JP McManus’ colours, celebrates with Champion Hurdle trophy after Epatante’s success – Photo: George Selwyn

Jonjo O’Neill Jnr’s banner season has been capped with the 22-year-old claiming the champion conditional title, his wins including the Grade 2 Denman Chase at Newbury in February on the Colin Tizzard-trained Native River.

O’Neill Jnr said: “I feel very lucky that this year has gone so well. It’s all thanks to my main supporters, my dad and the Tizzards, who have been so good to me this season.

“I’m delighted to have won the conditional championship, it’s what I set out to do at the start of the season and there’s an illustrious roll of honour – so it’s nice to be included on it.”

A sixth champion trainer title has the gone way of Seven Barrows maestro Nicky Henderson, who first won the award in the 1985/86 season. Having accrued £2,533,862 in prize-money, he finishes £192,550 ahead of 11-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls.

Henderson added: “It’s a great pity that we haven’t been able to see the season out and it looked like the race was going down to the wire again at Sandown Park. But all of us know that the current situation is bigger than racing and something that everyone in the country is having to deal with and face.

“I would like to thank all of the owners that have enabled us to win this year’s trainers’ championship – it really is a testament to them and the horses that we have in our yard. Seven Barrows as a team are extremely proud of this title and my staff have been amazing, as they always are, and are doing everything they can to make sure all the horses are looked after during this time.

“I know that they and everyone else in the sport will be raring to go with the next season, as soon as it’s safe to start racing again.”

Thanks to an outstanding Cheltenham Festival, where his colours were carried to victory 11 times, including by Champion Hurdle heroine Epatante, JP McManus was a comprehensive winner of the champion jumps owners’ title.