flat RACING’S worst kept secret was confirmed last night when former champion jockey Paul Hanagan’s five-year association with leading owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum came to an end.
First reported on October 8, Hanagan pays the price for a below-par year on the part of Hamdan’s Shadwell Stud operation amid speculation that James Doyle could don the famous blue and white colours after being spurned by Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
Yet Hanagan, who became dual champion jockey with Malton trainer Richard Fahey before taking up the retained role in 2011, will be philosophical. He has far more big race experience under his belt and is one of the sport’s best ambassadors.
This setback is also nothing compared to the plight of his weighing room colleague Freddy Tylicki who was left paralysed following a horrific fall at Kempton – Hanagan mentored the stricken German-born rider at Fahey’s yard.
Hanagan, 36, was unable to end his Hamdan association with a winner at Wolverhampton last night, but expressed his gratitude for the chance to ride horses like Taghrooda to victory in the Epsom Oaks, and also the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, in 2014.
Muhaarar and Mukhadram also provided success at the highest level.
“Sheikh Hamdan is a true gentleman. It has been a privilege to ride for him,” said the rider. “I am disappointed that our partnership has come to an end, but I have to put these things into perspective particularly at this time when my close friend Freddy Tylicki has suffered life-changing injuries. We are all praying for him.
“Thankfully, I am still fit and healthy and am enjoying my riding as much as ever. It is too early to say what my plans are for the future, but I will continue to work as hard as ever and am looking forward to meeting the new challenges that lie ahead.”
On a merciless day, top young Irish rider Jonathan Burke’s partnership with Yorkshire-born mining tycoon Alan Potts was also ended after two years.
With Potts and his wife Ann moving many of their top horses from Ireland to Colin Tizzard’s Dorset yard, Burke will now ply his trade as a freelance.