RICHARD HUGHES closed the gap behind Paul Hanagan in the race for the jockeys' title to seven after an across-the-card treble on Wednesday.

Hughes, who begins a seven-day suspension on Saturday, now has 165 winners for the season after partnering the Richard Hannon-trained Byrony to a clearcut success at Kempton following a double at Lingfield in the afternoon.

"I've had a lot of seconds and I was hoping for four winners, but I will take three," said Hughes, who has six rides at Brighton and six at Kempton on Thursday.

"I have loads of rides tomorrow, but I need three or four again."

Hanagan, who will be in action at Nottingham on Thursday, was out of luck with his three mounts at Kempton and said: "It was tough today. I thought it would be though. When Newcastle was off on Tuesday - I had eight ridesthere. It's been a tough week up in the north because there's hardly been any racing so I have to come here."

The news of Hughes's hat-trick is unlikely to be well received in the offices of bookmakers Ladbrokes, who earlier in the day revealed they have paid out on Hanagan landing his first jockeys' crown.

Speaking on Wednesday afternoon, Ladbrokes spokesman David Williams said: "It's done and dusted as far as we're concerned. The suspension for Richard Hughes and his trip to the States [to ride Paco Boy at the Breeders' Cup] have all but put paid to his aspirations and we reckon the battle is over."

Hanagan, however, is refusing to accept victory. "It's crazy, absolute madness," he said.

"He's got three back today and he is going to be going for it when he gets back so there is still a long way to go. He's had 12 rides today and I've had three."