Tag Archive for: Paul Hanagan

Graham Lee ‘humbled’ by racing club initiative

On the 20th anniversary of Graham Lee winning the Grand National on Amberleigh House, a new racing club was launched to help raise money for the jockey after he suffered life-changing injuries in a fall at Newcastle in November.

The 48-year-old had a long and distinguished career in the saddle – under both codes. As well as winning the Grand National, he completed the unique double of riding the Gold Cup winner at Royal Ascot, via Trip To Paris.

The Graham Lee Racing Club has been set up by the Good Racing Company, founded by Phil Hawthorne, who established a similar venture for former rugby league player Rob Burrow.

They have purchased a two-year-old filly called We’ve Got This, in reference to a message Lee’s wife Becky posted on social media after the accident.

Lee’s daughter Amy and son Robbie have been at the forefront of the fundraising, with the latter designing the club’s logo, featured around Lee’s favourite number 17, also the number Amberleigh House wore at Aintree and the cost, £17, to join the venture, while Amy set up the initial Just Giving page.

Graham Lee with son Robbie, wife Becky and daughter Amy in hospital
Graham Lee with son Robbie, wife Becky and daughter Amy in hospital (Louise Pollard)

She said: “It’s so nice that something so positive comes out of something so awful. I love meeting people who know dad, everyone has their really cool stories and everyone has been wanting to help so much. It’s nice to create something positive.

“When we set up a Just Giving page for dad, the target was £100, last week it hit £200,000 – which is crazy. I never expected that.

“I’ve always said to dad every time he has a negative thought, there’s a donation to show him he needs to keep going, there are so many people behind him.

“When he’s had his down days, we’ve sat there and we’ve read all the lovely messages and it always puts a smile on our faces.

“We’ve had so much support and the McCoys have been like a second family to us – the night it happened AP picked me up, as I live near him, and he brought me up home.”

She went on: “Dad is just dad to me. I never really clicked how incredible he was. I’ve always thought the world of him but another jockey said to me ‘he’s like God, he’s who everyone wants to be like’. It’s so nice to hear something like that.

“I wish that I could be half the person. I’m a performer, I’m studying musical theatre, and to have that competitive mindset to be a winner, to be a champion, is admirable.

“While he was a jockey, it was onto the next thing. When he won the National, he was just thinking ‘I need to go to Hexham tomorrow’, he never got to celebrate it really, but since his accident, he’s really reflected and we’ve pulled out the old photos and old videos.

“When his friends and fellow jockeys come and see him, they reflect on races from years ago and his memory is insanely sharp. I think it’s starting to click that ‘actually, I think I was all right. I don’t think I did too bad a job’.

“So many people have come to see him or got in touch with a message, it’s been so nice and really kept dad going.

“The world goes on but for us four, we’re still at November 11, time’s just stopped since then. Everyone has been carrying on, as they should. But it’s nice that people are still caring at this point, five months down the line. They are still showing up, ringing, messaging.”

Club ambassador Adele Mulrennan with Paul Hanagan on the left with trainer Craig Lidster and Good Racing Company founder Phil Hawthorne on the right of William Pyle with We've Got This
Club ambassador Adele Mulrennan with Paul Hanagan on the left with trainer Craig Lidster and Good Racing Company founder Phil Hawthorne on the right of William Pyle with We’ve Got This (Louise Pollard)

Lee’s former weighing room colleague and dual champion jockey Paul Hanagan is now assistant trainer to Craig Lidster, who has been entrusted with looking after We’ve Got This.

“It’s an honour to be involved in this, Graham’s family are closely involved, Steve and Wendy Burdett, who own Eboracum Stables, have given us the horse, so a lot of thanks go to them,” said Hanagan.

“The filly is by Invincible Army, she’s been doing everything right and I’ve sat on her myself. She’s flourished these last few months and we’re really looking forward to the season.

“Obviously, I’ve had a few sleepless nights hoping I’ve picked a good one! Hopefully she’ll be running in the next five to six weeks.

“Graham has made a huge contribution to racing all through his career and I’d love to give something back.”

Lee himself said: “I’m really humbled that a fundraising racing club has been set up in my honour, and that Paul Hanagan has chosen the horse for me. I’ve been shown videos of the horse and she looks very promising. No pressure Paul, but I hope you’ve picked a winner!

“I’ve seen what the Good Racing Company has achieved for Rob Burrow and how it’s united the racing community. I have high hopes that this new racing club achieves the same success with We’ve Got This, and my family and I look forward to following the excitement and being part of this new community.”

Lidster, whose yard is flourishing, said: “As you can see, she’s a nice, big filly, so hopefully we might get to York at some point.

“I don’t want to put her on a pedestal but she’s going the right way, she’s got a great attitude, she loves her work and we’re pleased with her.

“She has size and scope about her, so we’ll be choosing the right track for her; galloping tracks like York and Doncaster.

“This is a special cause. Family is family, whether that is your own or the racing industry – and that is how we look at Graham and anyone else in this sport, we all look to help each other when these things happen.”

More information can be found at: https://thegoodracing.co/

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Macarone on a mission for Rob Burrow Racing Club at Thirsk

Yorkshire handler Craig Lidster admits he has been humbled by the chance to train Macarone for the Rob Burrow Racing Club as he sets his sights on a fitting Pontefract date later this month.

Burrow’s battle with motor neurone disease has touched the hearts of the nation and has also left a lasting impression on the Easingwold-based handler, who has relished the opportunity to train for the racing club that raises money for charity in the former England and Leeds Rhinos star’s name.

Lidster has recorded 30 winners so far in his fledgling training career, but none meant as much to him as Macarone’s maiden triumph at Beverley last month, which came on his first start in the Rob Burrow Racing Club colours.

And although injuring his back on the gallops a day before Macarone broke his duck, Lidster was trackside to witness the son of Havana Grey open his account in the hands of Paul Hanagan, who not long afterwards announced his retirement from the saddle.

Training for Rob Burrow has been humbling for Yorkshire handler Craig Lidster
Training for Rob Burrow has been humbling for Yorkshire handler Craig Lidster (Mike Egerton/PA)

He said: “We were thrilled to bits to get that win at Beverley and it was special as it was one of Paul’s last rides.

“It’s an honour to train for Rob. People asked me before Macarone won what was the pinnacle of my training career and I would say watching Julie Camacho and Steve Brown win Group Ones with Shaquille because they are very good friends of mine.

“But to go and top that with Macarone winning for the Rob Burrow Racing Club was a massive pleasure and humbling.

“I had broken my back the day before (in an accident on the gallops) and people were saying ‘what are you doing here?’. But when you turn around and see people in a worse situation than you, there was no way I was going to miss that in a million years.”

Having now got off the mark, Macarone will now attempt to climb the ratings at Thirsk in a bid to secure his place in a Pontefract nursery later this month.

It would be an appropriate climax to the youngster’s juvenile campaign with the race taking place in Burrow’s home town and at the closest racecourse to Leeds where he made his name in the Rhinos’ jersey.

“He is going to go to Thirsk on Monday,” continued Lidster.

“The main target is Pontefract on September 28 which is Rob’s home track so we would like to get Macarone to Rob’s home turf. The race is a 0-78 so we would like to come up the weights a bit to make sure we get in there.

“He’s a nice horse and a nice prospect going forward and with Rob Burrow taking him on, both myself and Steve (Burdett, the horse’s previous owner) were really keen to help Rob in any way we can.

“It’s a massive cause for such a lovely fella and we just couldn’t turn down helping.”

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Emotional Hanagan says farewell to the saddle at York

There was to be no fairytale ending for Paul Hanagan at York on Friday as the dual champion jockey bowed out aboard Wootton’Sun in the opening race on the penultimate afternoon of the Ebor Festival.

The 42-year-old announced on Wednesday he had decided to bring his distinguished riding career to an end and it was fitting his long-time ally Richard Fahey provided him with his farewell mount.

The crowds packed around the parade ring to give Hanagan a warm reception as he left the weighing room for the final time and he was clearly emotional as he received a guard of honour from his fellow riders.

Hopes were high the Warrington-born champion of 2010 and 2011 could go out on a high aboard Wootton’Sun, whose sire Wootton Bassett provided Hanagan with his first Group One winner in the 2010 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, but it was not to be.

Paul Hanagan in the York winner's enclosure
Paul Hanagan in the York winner’s enclosure (Nick Robson/PA)

The four-year-old brought strong form claims to the table in the Sky Bet Handicap, having won the Old Newton Cup at Haydock last month before being beaten a short head by Scampi in a similarly valuable handicap at Ascot a fortnight ago.

But while he travelled well for the first half of the mile-and-a-half contest, he was unable to pick up when asked for maximum effort and he was ultimately well beaten, finishing 12th of 14 runners.

Hanagan said: “Oh wow, it’s very surreal. I’m still in shock with the ovation I got off the crowd round the paddock. It was a ‘wow’ moment and a very, very proud moment for me.

“It wasn’t to be with the last ride, but we all know horse racing isn’t straightforward the whole time and it was just nice to go out like that, and for Richard as well – I owe him a lot.

“I’m going to celebrate with the family. I’m just a bit lost for words and very emotional.

“I’ve been crying my eyes out, I’m not going to lie. I walked the track earlier with my two boys and that was very emotional. They realised the whole magnitude of it all.

“I keep putting it into younger kids that you might be going through a bad time and it might be tough, but if you work really hard it can pay off. That’s certainly what happened to me.

“I think work ethic and a good attitude can get you a long way.”

Among the well wishers in the parade ring was Angus Gold, long-standing racing manager for the Shadwell operation.

Hanagan enjoyed a five-year association as retained rider for the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, a spell which saw him claim Classic glory aboard Taghrooda in the 2014 Oaks at Epsom before the duo went on to land the King George and finish third to Treve in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

“I couldn’t speak highly enough of the man,” said Gold. “A brilliant jockey and for me the best guy to work with – loyal, hard working, a great work rider and team member and a joy to work with, plus the biggest gentleman to ever step foot in the weighing room.

“I think he rode nearly 1,000 winners for Richard – extraordinary statistics.

Paul Hanagan crosses the finish line on Wootton’Sun
Paul Hanagan crosses the finish line on Wootton’Sun (Simon Marper/PA)

“We were lucky enough to get him and he did a fabulous job for us, with probably Taghrooda and Muhaarar being the highlights, as well as Mukhadram in the Eclipse.

“For me, above everything else, he’s just the most decent man, a superstar and we wish him all the best.”

Ryan Moore was victorious aboard Marhaba The Champ in Hanagan’s farewell race, and told ITV Racing: “Paul started a couple of years before me and he’s had a wonderful career.

“He’s been champion jockey twice and he’s won Classics and had a great career. It will be sad to see him go, but it looks like he’s ready and I wish him well for the future.”

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Taghrooda tops five stars for Paul Hanagan

As Paul Hanagan bows out after a 25-year career in the saddle, we reflect on five of the dual champion jockey’s best horses:


Taghrooda gave Hanagan a Classic success in 2014
Taghrooda gave Hanagan a Classic success in 2014 (Adam Davy/PA)

Taghrooda won her only juvenile start and then blazed home by six lengths in the Pretty Polly Stakes to mark herself as a Classic contender. She went to post as a 5-1 shot for John Gosden in the Oaks, making easy work of a near four-length win before exploiting the three-year-old allowance to perfection to follow up in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. Narrowly beaten as the 1-5 favourite in the Yorkshire Oaks, she rounded off her career when beaten just over three lengths into third in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.


Muhaarar (second left) was a sprint force in 2015
Muhaarar (second left) was a sprint force in 2015 (Nigel French/PA)

The sprint king of 2015, Muhaarar’s ability was evident when winning the Gimcrack the previous season. Trained by Charlie Hills, Muhaarar won the Greenham which prompted a crack at the French 2000 Guineas, but after failing to stay he dropped back to six furlongs and mopped up the Commonwealth Cup, July Cup and Prix Maurice de Gheest before signing off with a British Champions Sprint triumph.


Hanagan pictured with Wootton Bassett
Hanagan pictured with Wootton Bassett (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Wootton Bassett was a landmark horse for the Paul Hanagan-Richard Fahey axis, providing the pair with their first Group One success in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. That victory capped a five-race unbeaten juvenile campaign for the colt, which also included a couple of richly-endowed sales events at Doncaster and York along the way. While he did not win at three, he has gone on to prove a stallion revelation with a welter of Group One winners and a current stud fee of €150,000.


Sands Of Mali won on Champions Day at Ascot
Sands Of Mali won on Champions Day at Ascot (Julian Herbert/PA)

Winner of the 2017 Gimcrack Stakes, he took the Sandy Lane and finished second in the Commonwealth Cup the following spring, but by the time midsummer came around, it looked as though he had posted his best as he turned in a couple of lacklustre runs. However, soft ground at Ascot in the autumn saw him roar back to form and defy his odds of 28-1 to win the British Champions Sprint on what was his final run in Hanagan’s hands.


Hanagan salutes the crowd aboard Mayson at Newmarket
Hanagan salutes the crowd aboard Mayson at Newmarket (Jon Buckle/PA)

At his peak in his four-year-old season, Mayson won the Abernant and Palace House Stakes on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile before successfully switching to the July course to land the July Cup later in the campaign. He had only one more run after that, when edged by a neck in the Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp, completing a fine rise through the ranks to bow out with a rating of 119.

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Paul Hanagan to retire from riding on Friday

Classic-winning jockey Paul Hanagan has announced he will retire from the saddle after riding at York on Friday.

The 42-year-old enjoyed Epsom glory when steering Taghrooda to victory in the 2014 Oaks, before the duo went on to land the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes and finish third to Treve in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Hanagan was the leading apprentice in 2002 and was crowned champion jockey twice – first winning the title in 2010 when he rode 205 winners in a calendar year and successfully defending his crown in 2011, when he partnered 177 winners over the 12 months.

Recent seasons have proved more difficult, suffering a serious fall in February 2020 that resulted in three fractured vertebrae and a prolonged period on the sidelines, eventually returning to action in August that year and steering Majestic Dawn to a popular victory in the Cambridgeshire the following month.

Paul Hanagan won the 2014 King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Taghrooda
Paul Hanagan won the 2014 King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Taghrooda (Steven Parsons/PA)

Hanagan has ridden 14 winners so far this year and feels it is the right time to depart the weighing room, with his final ride due to come aboard the Richard Fahey-trained Wootton’Sun.

He said: “As you can imagine it’s quite emotional. It’s difficult, I think any professional sportsperson will tell you, especially doing it as long as I’ve been doing it for.

“There’s a few things involved in making my decision, I had a pretty bad fall about two years ago and I’ve never quite been the same after it, I fractured my back in three places.

“It’s not so much painful riding, but it’s getting to the level of fitness you need to be at to be a professional jockey and I don’t think I was getting to that standard.”

He continued: “The fall a couple of years ago knocked me, just fitness wise getting that level again (has been difficult) and I just thought of all the meetings to do it, maybe it’s here, where I’ve had a lot of success.

“Looking back, I was very proud of myself for getting where I have (after the fall). I managed to ride a couple of Royal Ascot winners after coming back, but keeping the fitness right was causing me a bit of pain and retiring here at the Ebor meeting feels right.

“I try to instil in my children that if you work hard, things can happen. I was champion apprentice in 2002 and I thought ‘why not just push yourself a little bit more?’.

“I was two-times champion jockey as a kid from Warrington without a lot of racing experience, so I keep telling kids it can be done.”

Hanagan was a dual champion jockey
Hanagan was a dual champion jockey (John Giles/PA)

Hanagan had his first ride at Haydock in September 1998 – a fitting venue for a Warrington native – finishing fourth on Stone Beck for the late Malcolm Jefferson.

The then 17-year-old embarked on what would be a long association with Fahey the following year, with the Malton trainer supporting him during his apprentice championship-winning season, which also featured his first high-profile victory aboard Vintage Premium in the John Smith’s Cup at York.

The pair enjoyed countless big-race success, with Wootton Bassett providing a notable landmark when giving the pair a first Group One success in the 2010 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at ParisLongchamp.

Paul Hanagan salutes the Newmarket crowd aboard Mayson
Paul Hanagan salutes the Newmarket crowd aboard Mayson (Jon Buckle/PA)

Mayson, winner of the 2012 July Cup, proved another out of the top drawer for the team, while the likes of Anna Pavlova, Utmost Respect, Barefoot Lady and Fonthill Road were other headline-grabbing victors.

The partnership came to an end at the start of 2012 when the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum signed up Hanagan as his retained rider, a role he held until the end of 2016.

His association with the Shadwell team brought success on a different level, with Taghrooda one of the standout horses along with 2014 Eclipse victor Mukhadram and Muhaarar, who won three top-level sprint prizes in 2015.

After his split with Sheikh Hamdan, Hanagan gravitated back to Fahey and the pair once again racked up the winners in a period highlighted by the likes of 2018 British Champions Sprint winner Sands Of Mali and 2021 Norfolk Stakes hero Perfect Power.

The Ridler was Hanagan's final Royal Ascot winner
The Ridler was Hanagan’s final Royal Ascot winner (Adam Davy/PA)

However, Fahey announced in May 2022 that Hanagan would no longer have first pick of the stable’s rides, with Oisin Orr taking a prominent role at the North Yorkshire yard.

The old allies enjoyed one final Royal Ascot hurrah though, when 50-1 shot The Ridler won last year’s Norfolk Stakes in what proved to be Hanagan’s final Royal Ascot victory.

Reflecting on his career highlights, Hanagan said: “Taghrooda is right up there and I’ve been blessed to ride some beautiful horses for some wonderful people.

“To win a Classic on Taghrooda was special – I don’t think I’ll ever forget my family’s faces that day.

“Muhaarar is probably one of the best sprinters I rode and I was honoured to have a five-year association with Sheikh Hamdan and I had an even longer career with Richard Fahey, who I owe a lot to.

“I’ve been blessed with a lot of people along the way, one of the most important being Tom O’Ryan, who was such a big influence on my career, along with my parents.”

Hanagan rode upwards of 100 winners in no less than nine seasons and bows out with over 2,000 winners to his credit, having brought up that landmark in November 2020 to join an exclusive club to have completed the feat.

The rider already has a new position lined up with the Good Racing Company having ridden a notable winner for the owner earlier in the week.

He added: “There’s a few options being discussed – and I’m few open to suggestions!

“I’m really looking forward to working with The Good Racing Company, a charity that raises funds for different charities, namely working with Rob Burrow, and I’m going to be guiding them on which horses to buy.

“I rode Rob Burrow’s first winner at Beverley the other day and that was very special.

“I’ve been riding for 26 years and it would be criminal of me not to do something more in racing.”

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