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    Blake’s milestone to remember Blake’s milestone to remember

    WINNERS APLENTY:: Blake Hughes

    THE 2019-20 season will go down as the coming of age for some of the state’s most promising young drivers. Firstly, last month, it... Blake’s milestone to remember

    THE 2019-20 season will go down as the coming of age for some of the state’s most promising young drivers.

    Firstly, last month, it was Tom Ison who achieved the significant milestone of driving 100 winners in a season.

    He was joined last Friday night by another Hunter Valley reinsman, Blake Hughes, who went into the Newcastle meeting needing two winners.

    And they came relatively easily when Soho Sinatra scored a seven-metre win and Mammals Riddle was left alone in front before running a slick last quarter to win by a short neck.

    “It was a great feeling to finally bring up my 100th winner,” said Blake.

    “It felt like I was never going to get there as I was ahead of Tom (Ison) for a long time and he achieved the feat before me.

    “When Clayton [Harmey] trained his century of winners earlier in the year, we made a pact that we would work hard for me to equal that feat.

    “I truly can’t thank Clayton enough; he has had belief in me all along and has given me so much encouragement, giving me confidence and my driving has improved because of it.

    “And I am also grateful to the many trainers outside of our stable who have had faith in me, letting me drive their horses.

    “You cannot get winners without all that support.

    “I only drove 15 winners last season and it is hard to believe where I am at right now; I nearly have to pinch myself.”

    Blake will drive in six of the eight races at Newcastle tonight and most of them are very well-fancied in the market.

    “I can’t really single out which is my best drive, they all go very well,” said Hughes.

    “This is the reason why I can drive winners, getting on nice horses that are well prepared, mine is the easy part.”

    Hughes will drive four horses for his “boss” Harmey and also has one drive each for Roy Roots Jnr and Geoff Harding.

    The Harding-trained Jasper Styles (Race 4) is the longest-priced runner that Hughes will drive tonight yet the form around the five-year-old is strong, his last start resulting in a close second in a fast-run 1.56.4.

    On paper, Tralee Rocks (Race 5) shapes as probably his best drive.

     – MICHAEL DUMESNY

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