jockey lands new post for prominent owner
Rider will keep connection
with trainer Richard Fahey
Hanagan will take over as first rider to the owner Hamdan al-Maktoum on the
retirement of Richard Hills at the end of next month, it was announced on
For the jockey, who has been champion in each of the last two
years, the appointment represents a longed-for chance to compete in the best
races rather than travelling to whichever remote racecourse offers the prospect
of most winners on a particular day.
It was "an offer I couldn't
resist", Hanagan said, adding that his new situation was just "starting to sink
in". "The one thing that swung it for me really was the history of Sheikh
Hamdan's horses and hopefully we can keep it going."
particular thanks to the trainer Richard Fahey, for whom he has been riding
since he was 17, saying: "It was quite emotional when I went round to see him
last night." He hopes to continue taking rides for the Yorkshire-based Fahey
when his new job allows.
were plenty of people saying, 'He's twice champion jockey but he's only ridden
one Group One winner'. I want to improve the quality of horse that I ride."
That theme was picked up by Hanagan's agent, Richard Hale, who said:
"He'll be riding good horses in good races and it's a chance to answer those
people who say, 'He rides lots of winners but can he do it in the Group races?'
You still hear that but Paul Hanagan won't be letting anyone down."
Bookmakers took the view that the news makes Hanagan less likely to
retain his title as champion jockey, Ladbrokes pushing him out to 6-1 from 7-2,
and Hale accepted that as reasonable.
"You've managed to win it twice
by single-figure margins by controlling your own destiny every day, whereas now
you'll still get a lot of winners but it won't be so easy to cherry-pick the
four-timers at Musselburgh. You'll have to go where your runners are and it
changes the whole dynamics of it.
"He certainly doesn't want to get on
that treadmill again. At the end of last season he was like Steve Redgrave when
he said, 'If I get back in that boat you can shoot me'."
The race to be
this year's champion now appears wide open, with Silvestre de Sousa, runner-up
last year, having limited his chances by signing up with Godolphin this week.
Ryan Moore and Richard Hughes are now joint-favourites at best odds of 4-1,
with Kieren Fallon, who recently turned 47, a 9-2 shot.
Sousa was the man most heavily backed to succeed Richard Hills as the principal
jockey to Sheikh Hamdan when one bookmaker offered odds on Sunday. Paddy
Power's market was open for less than 90 minutes, during which time De Sousa
was cut from 7-2 to 6-4 before further support prompted the firm to suspend
Fallon's agent, Terry Norman, responded to the news of
Hanagan's appointment by saying: "Kieren is going to give the title challenge
one more go. The difference is that we will start the assault from April rather
than wait until May. I'm not sure whether we will have enough firepower but the
decision is to give it 100% for one more season." .
The trainer George
Prodromou has been warned off for eight years at the end of the latest
corruption investigation by the British Horseracing Authority, while four
gamblers were warned off for indefinite periods. Prodromou was found to have
instructed the jockey Charlotte Kerton not to ride two horses on their merits
and to have shared details of his plans with the gamblers, who profited by
laying those horses.
Prodromou said he had done nothing wrong and would
appeal. Kerton was not warned off, having apparently given up her riding career
in Britain, but the BHA will not accept a licence application from her for six