Thursday 30 March 2017

Hanagan denies Hughes in title epic

Marcus Armytage

After one of the best front-running displays of all time, Paul Hanagan was deservedly crowned British champion jockey for the first time at Doncaster on Saturday.

When the stalls opened for the start of the Flat season at the same track in March, Hanagan was quickly into his stride with a first-day four-timer and was never headed. After 1,109 rides and 191 winners, the boy from Warrington finished two clear of Richard Hughes, who had 57 fewer mounts.

Hughes mounted a determined challenge and the Kildare native's 22 winners in the final 10 days of a long season warrants the utmost respect. There was some Irish success, however, as Cork native Martin Lane claimed the apprentices' crown.

After becoming champion apprentice in 2002, Hanagan had got down to the job of carving out a successful if unspectacular career -- hence he started the campaign as a 50/1 chance to win the title.

His previous seasons were punctuated by suspensions for careless riding. This time a conscious effort to keep out of the stewards' room was fundamental to his success.

Instead of battering down closed doors, he has been riding clean.

It was not until Longchamp on Arc day last month that he recorded his first Group One winner on Wootton Bassett. There are many more to come and when he looks back on his season that will rank as one of his finest hours.

Meanwhile, Frankie Dettori landed his second major success in less than 24 hours when steering Rio De La Plata to a comfortable victory in the Premio Roma GBI Racing at Capannelle yesterday.

The Italian ace dashed to Rome after winning the Breeders' Cup Turf on the Brian Meehan-trained Dangerous Midge to take the ride on the five-year-old for Godolphin, his main employers.

And it proved well worth it as Rio De La Plata followed up his Group One triumph at San Siro last month with a second successive win at the highest level. Leading a furlong out, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained entry stayed on strongly over the mile and a quarter to land the spoils from Voila Ici. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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