Reigning Flat Champion exclusive to

    Exclusive to! Champion Jockey Paul Hanagan discusses his rides at Ripon and Pontefract this weekend and looks back on another successful Shergar Cup Day plus there are six horses for Hanagan's Handbook.


Although I’ve nearly got a full book of rides at Ripon on Saturday I’m going to have to work really hard to get a result – I just hope I’ve picked right in the big one, the Great St Wilfrid Handicap (3.30) with JOHANNES.

He won his race but on the wrong side at Ascot last time when Richie Mullen rode him in the race Noble Citizen won at Ascot last month.

Although he ran well with me the time before at Newcastle when he was just over a length third to Edinburgh Knight and the ground rode on the soft side of good, I would prefer it to stay dry. I think it suits him much better.

He just seemed to get stuck in it because he does have a turn of foot so the faster the pace, the better he’ll like it.

Of the other two that Richard saddles, I’d recommend you keep an eye on the three-year-old Mayson. He’s not run this season so will obviously improve but a year to the day he won the Hornblower at this meeting. There are going to be good days with him.

I was on Quest For Success the last time he won at Hamilton in mid-July but he was put up 6lb to 103 for the Stewards Cup last time and it was enough to anchor him with Lee Topliss taking off three so it makes sense for him to do the same again despite a 1lb drop.

Addictive Dream makes a quick appearance for Walter Swinburn after our unlucky run in the Shergar Cup last Saturday and if we hadn’t been flattened when making our run then I think we’d have gone very close.

The only problem was that he got very buzzy in the stalls and for that reason he was slow out and a good draw became a bad one.  He can’t do the same here but if he breaks on terms then he’s a player.

As usual, Dandy Nicholls is all over this sprint and I suppose it has to be that Tajneed is the pick but I couldn’t be certain.

I’m on BLUE SHOES for Tim Easterby in the Brennands Are Yorkshire Post Winners Maiden Auction (2.20) which kicks the meeting off. I’ve never ridden her before but having scanned her form she’s going to be vulnerable to an improver.

Having said that, this doesn’t look strong although I’d expect Ed McMahon’s Vitalicious to be much more clued up after his debut run.

The form pick, though, seems to be Odyssey who’s got better with each of two runs and his trainer, Michael Dods, is starting to run into form.

I’ve got the call from Sir Henry Cecil in the VW Van Centre Handicap (2.55) and ride DIESCENTRIC for him. It’s not often I ride for him but last season I was one from two and I think we will be players in this.

I’m sure he wouldn’t be making the journey for nothing and with only six runs in his life there’s got to be room for improvement.

He didn’t seem to be getting home over ten and nine furlongs and this mile could be the answer. The only slight question in my mind would be if the ground came on the soft side as he’s never had it before.

Normally I’d have been on Extraterrestrial for Richard but he thinks the horse still has plenty of weight so is taking three off with Lee Topliss.

It looks as though Stan Moore’s SON DU SILENCE faces an uphill task in the Hornblower (4.05) but ABDICATE (4.40) will be much more at home over ten furlongs in the Bahri Fillies Handicap.

Richard put her in over nine at Goodwood last time when she was always struggling from a bad draw. It meant we had to travel wide and she was always running with the choke out.

She’s not easy but she does have ability when things fall right and that could well be the case because she has won over this trip at Ripon and it’s the sort of track that a horse needs to know.

The key is that they need to go quick and if they do then it will definitely suit her.

I can’t see much hope for GUINEA SEEKER (5.15) who I ride for Tim Easterby in the five furlong Maiden but I’m definitely a chance on NUMBER THEORY for John Holt in the SIS Live Handicap (5.45).

This will be the first time I’ve ridden him but I saw him just get home at Haydock last month and I got the impression that this extra two furlongs will improve him but it needs to as he’s gone up 4lb for winning a short head.


It looks as though it’ll be an uphill battle on Sunday at Pontefract – the card looks extremely competitive.

I just hope that the going forecast is correct and it stays on the fast side of good for ROSE BLOSSOM (3.30) in the EBF Flying Fillies, the Listed race over six.

We’ve got a good draw in one but it does worry me that she only just lasts over six and the finish there is pretty stiff. I can see the last furlong lasting for a long time because I’ll have to get her out and in front.

On the plus side, she is in a good place mentally but she’s going to need to bring her A game to the track with the likes of Rimth and Dever Dream.

I start with KIMBALI in the five furlong two-year-old Maiden (2.00) but I thought he would win last time and he didn’t. I always believe in giving a young horse another chance but he’ll need to have improved of he’s to beat Red Aggressor who was only beaten six lengths in the Coventry last time.

I’m struggling to make a strong case for SNOW DANCER (2.30) in the Family Funday Handicap despite going up to 12 furlongs. John Gosden’s Rain Mac took my eye when I was going through the race. If we managed the frame it would be a decent effort.

I’ve won on Peter Niven’s GOLDEN FUTURE (3.00) before but he just doesn’t have any secrets from the handicapper as you’d expect from an eight year-old and he’s vulnerable to anything that’s improving – that could be Sir Mark Prescott’s Fire Fighter.

I’m inclined to forgive POLAR KITE (4.00) his last run at Ascot when he was drawn on the far side in the Britannia and before that he’d got knocked about in a rough race at Haydock. I haven’t had a chance to sit on him since his last run but he did impress me earlier in the season so he could be a player in a tight race. I do like him.

I don’t know anything about TADABEER (4.30) who showed promise on his only run for William Haggas and is now having his first start for Ian Williams in the mile Maiden.

I’m going to be very positive on HAADEETH, my last ride of the day in the Nova Display Handicap over five (5.00).

I don’t think he wants to be disappointed so if he wants to bowl in front I’ll let him and hope it suits him.


Since I made my views on the jockeys championship public in last week’s blog I can’t tell you how much better I’m feeling in myself – and I think that’s showing in my riding.

I had a lot of positive feedback from what I said last week and people understand that I want to look after myself – the Racing Post followed up and did a big piece in Friday’s paper. 

It was definitely a good decision to take the day riding in the Shergar Cup last Saturday. I know there are some people that don’t like it but I can honestly say that I enjoyed every minute it was going on.

I know that I was favourite to win the Silver Saddle individual jockeys title but I felt really proud when I knew that I’d won it – it was just a shame that we were edged out of the team prize.

It was just totally different from any other day; it was relaxing and a great atmosphere to be part of and to be alongside riders considered some of the best in the world.

I knew my old adversary Richard Hughes very well plus his team mates Fran Berry and Colm O’Donoghue and Hugh Bowman. But it was good to chat with Doug Whyte and it’s nice to see how other people approach the job.

The only time I really spoke with Mirco Demuro was when apologised for murdering me on Addictive Dream in the sprint. He came off the rail the just as I’d got my horse’s head in the gap then came back in and flattened me. His English is about as good as my Italian but we understood each other.

But it was a massive dollop of icing early on when I won the first race of the series on Sarrsar for Godolphin which was a very good example of being in a good place mentally and tactically.

Maybe six weeks earlier I’d have gone for the gap sooner than I did and knocked my way through and got a ban or waited too long, switched and got beat.

I got it right on Saturday.


LORDOFTHEHOUSE left a very favourable impression on me after he showed plenty of courage to get back in front and win at Haydock last Friday evening. Any amount of improvement in him and he’ll stay further than 12 furlongs. If William Haggas calls for me again I’ll be doing my best to be available.

I had to be pleased with WOOTTON BASSETT at Deauville last Sunday and there was one stage when I thought I’d win because he was doing it so easily. But the problem is that we haven’t had a clear run with his preparation for targets all this season and I think that told on him. It’s been frustrating for Richard but the horse showed that he’s still got plenty to offer. I think six is spot on for him but I wouldn’t want it firm.

DUTCH HERITAGE came good at the fourth try in a five furlong Maiden at Thirsk on Monday. He’d been given a mark of 73 and even allowing for him being raised he looks the type to follow up in a Nursery. Although he was dropping back from six to five I think the longer distance is fine. He is still a baby and wasn’t really doing that much. I quite like him.

BOUNTIFUL GIRL might not have beaten much when she won a seven furlong Maiden at the same meeting but it was only her second start and I’m certain that she’ll come on again. She’s very, very tough and genuine so nurseries are logical.

COSMIC HALO was unfortunate on her debut at Ayr on Tuesday. There was one messing about behind the stalls and it seemed that she was in them forever and then got a fright when they opened and missed the kick by six lengths. She did well to be second, was very green in the race and I think quite a bit of her. She’ll get a mile all day.

VENTURA SPIRIT is another of our two-year-olds that is still a baby but continues to get there. He was only caught near the finish at Beverley on Wednesday and a bit faster ground will help him. He’s qualified for nurseries, too.


It’s my favourite meeting of the year next week at York – it’s our equivalent of Royal Ascot – and my book of rides is still a work in progress at the moment.

I told you last week that Bapak Chinta looks a standout in the Nunthorpe but we’ll be talking the meeting through day by day next week.

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