PAUL HANAGAN hopes a new generation of horses can deliver him Group One success on Flat racing’s inaugural Future Champions Day at Newmarket following the retirement of Taghrooda and Mukhadram, two class horses that carried the jockey to Oaks, Eclipse and King George glory in high summer.
The former Malton-based rider does not expect the likely testing conditions to inconvenience Estidhkaar when he attempts to land championship two-year-old honours in the seven-furlong Dubai Dewhurst Stakes.
This is the horse who showed great potential when winning Doncaster’s Champagne Stakes on Ladbrokes St Leger day.
“This is a very good horse,” said Hanagan. “I sat on him on Sunday at Richard Hannon’s and I couldn’t have been more happy with him.
“I don’t think he’ll mind the ground if it does come up soft.
“He’s very straightforward, he’s a lengthener and galloper with a very good attitude. It was a bit of a messy race at Doncaster. They didn’t go very quick and he was a bit fresh. It was his first day back after a long time and I couldn’t really give him his head. He’ll be spot-on for Newmarket.”
Secret Brief had to be supplemented for the Group One contest by Mark Johnston, but has more than paid for his own ticket with a couple of lucrative sales race victories at Newmarket.
It will be the Shamardal colt’s sixth competitive start in the last 11 weeks, but the Middleham trainer is confident his charge remains in peak condition.
The vision.ae Middle Park Stakes over six furlongs sees Johnston saddle Jungle Cat who was narrowly beaten by the Hanagan-inspired Muhaarar in a thrilling renewal of the Gimcrack Stakes at York’s Ebor festival.
Muhaarar was third to race favourite Ivawood at Newmarket earlier in the year, but Hanagan – retained rider to Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum – clearly has great faith in his mount who is trained by Charlie Hills.
“He’s come on with every run and showed a really good attitude at York to win the Gimcrack. He really put his head down for me that day,” said Hanagan who has also picked up the ride on the filly Fendale in the Group Three Dubai Cornwallis Stakes for Hambleton trainer Bryan Smart.
“If it comes up soft it wouldn’t be the end of the world. He won his maiden on very soft ground at Doncaster. He’s just a very straightforward horse that tries.”
The Queen’s Estimate, winner of the Doncaster Cup, has been declared for the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot tomorrow despite the prospect of unsuitably soft ground following further rain at the Berkshire track.
David O’Meara’s Custom Cut and Brian Ellison’s Top Notch Tonto both stand their ground for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over one mile while soft conditions have seen Lady Cecil’s Noble Mission backed into near favouritism for the 10-furlong Qipco Champion Stakes.
Top chasers Silviniaco Conti and Dynaste, first and second in last season’s Betfred Bowl at Aintree, could resume their rivalry in Wetherby’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase on November 1.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has confirmed that the £100,000 race will see the reappearance of Silviniaco Conti, the 2012 winner, while David Pipe says his grey – victorious in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival under Tom Scudamore – will head for the Old Roan Chase at Aintree on Saturday week or the Charlie Hall seven days later.
Meanwhile, top Irish trainer Willie Mullins has revealed Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hero Vautour is set to embark on a career over fences.
AP McCoy will miss the two-day Showcase meeting at Cheltenham after aggravating a serious shoulder injury at Wetherby on Wednesday.
He sustained further damage at the West Yorkshire circuit when he secured his 150th winner of the season aboard Goodwood Mirage.
McCoy, 40, was stood down for the rest of the day at Wetherby and missed out on three more winners.
“He’s very sore and you have got to be 100 per cent right.
“He won’t be riding until next week,” said the 19-times champion jockey’s agent Dave Roberts.