Richard Hughes after winning on Vanguard Dream - Newbury 07.10.10

Richard Hughes: injured when falling at Meydan last month

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Hughes confirmed
for Sandown return

CHAMPION jockey Richard Hughes will be back in the saddle at Sandown on Friday after being passed fit to ride on Wednesday morning.

Hughes, who sustained a stable fracture of a vertebra when suffering a dramatic fall from the ill-fated Mars on Meydan's World Cup card last month, pencilled in the fixture two weeks ago and has been given the go-ahead.

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The rider, who has five rides at Sandown, said: "I can't wait. I was very anxious going to see the doctor, but he has given me the all clear, which is great.

"They were telling me three months in Dubai which was pretty worrying. It was just because I'm so excited about getting back that I was very nervous before I went in."

William Hill and bet365 make Hughes 6-5 to be champion jockey for a third time, while Ryan Moore, who tops the standings with 21 winners, is evens with Paddy Power.

Hughes's rides at Sandown include Montiridge in the Group 2 bet365 Mile, which has attracted a final field of seven including Top Notch Tonto, second in the QEII Stakes at Ascot on Champions Day.

The unbeaten John Gosden-trained Western Hymn, no bigger than 16-1 for the Investec Derby, is one of eight declared for the bet365 Classic Trial.

And a field of six, including Group 2 winner Telescope and Frankel's full-brother Noble Mission, has been revealed for the Group 3 bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes.

As sporting sights go, few match the sheer excitement of 40 horses thundering towards the first fence at Aintree for the John Smith's Grand National.

A race steeped in history that always provides a story, the Grand National is the ultimate test of endurance and skill for both horse and jockey, as the pairing must navigate 30 treacherous fences, and then still have enough stamina to make a challenge on the run-in.

To manage a clear round in the 4m4f epic is no mean achievement, with the fences notoriously difficult and offering unique challenges.

Over the years, there have been countless memorable moments, Devon Loch's phantom leap in the 1956 contest, Foinavon's shock 100-1 win in 1967 and the brilliance of Red Rum, who took the chase on three occasions in 1973, 74 and 77.

In 1981 Aldaniti and Bob Champion completed a heartwarming tale when winning the race, as Aldaniti had recovered from a career-threatening injury while jockey Champion had battled back from cancer.

In 2011 the race provided another fairytale story as Donald McCain emulated his father and Aintree legend Ginger when winning with Ballabriggs - and that came just a year after champion jockey Tony McCoy finally gained victory in the race at the 15th time of asking.