Paul Hanagan’s win at Newcastle on Tuesday aboard Anif was the 2,000th of a long and illustrious career that spans more than 20 years. Here, we pick out some of the best horses he has ridden in that time:
In 2014 one filly enjoyed a golden summer and it was Taghrooda. She had only won once at two, scrambling home in a Newmarket maiden at 20-1, but she blossomed the following season. It began with a six-length win in the Pretty Polly in May, before she won the Oaks at Epsom by almost four lengths and then beat the boys in the King George at Ascot by another three lengths. Owned by Sheikh Hamdan and trained by John Gosden, she is undoubtedly the classiest horse Hanagan has ridden in his career. Surprisingly beaten in the Yorkshire Oaks, Taghrooda finished her racing days with a creditable third to Treve in the Arc, from a wide draw.
Hanagan’s one regret about Muhaarar’s career was that it was over so quickly. Winner of the Gimcrack at two, his three-year-old season was almost perfect. It began with a win in the Greenham, he then suffered his only defeat when failing to see out a mile in the French Guineas before returning to sprinting to win the Commonwealth Cup under Dane O’Neill. Hanagan was back on board for the July Cup and he was then back in France to win the Prix Maurice de Gheest. Charlie Hills’ star signed off with a dominant display in the 20-runner Haydock Sprint Cup, before heading to stud, where he is already proving a success.
Hanagan won four times aboard the crack Richard Fahey-trained miler – beginning with a novice event at Doncaster in July 2000 and culminating in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp later that year. His three-year-old campaign did not go as might have been hoped, finishing fifth in the French 2000 Guineas and seventh to Frankel in the St James’s Palace Stakes, but there was little doubt he was a top-notch performer on his day. He is also proving a huge hit at stud, so his legacy is likely to be a long and important one.
While Mayson will not be remembered in perhaps the same breath as Muhaarar, the Fahey-trained sprinter was very smart when he got his favoured soft conditions. Hanagan and Fahey must have thought all their Christmases had come at once ahead of the 2012 July Cup on near-unraceable ground, and Mayson duly bolted up by five lengths at 20-1. He nearly ended his campaign in a blaze of glory in France in the Abbaye when beaten just a neck.
Sands Of Mali
Sands Of Mali will not go down as a racing great, but he still won the Gimcrack, was second in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and then caused a shock in the British Champions Sprint on Champions Day. Winners on the big occasion are what it is all about and bagging a big Group One for his old ally Fahey will mean Hanagan always has a soft spot for this sprinter.
While never making the breakthrough at Group One level, Hanagan will surely hold this mare close to his heart. Another trained by Fahey, she won 10 of her 23 races, with Hanagan missing only two wins. An early sign that she was going to be better than average came when winning the Silver Bowl at Haydock and she went on to claim four Listed races. Her career-best effort came with a smart performance in the Lancashire Oaks in her final season.
Quite simply the horse who put Hanagan on the map. For those entrenched in northern racing, the John Smith’s Cup is viewed as one of the most prestigious races on the calendar. At the time Hanagan was only a promising apprentice, but he went on to win the apprentice title that season and his career continued to go from strength to strength.