Paul Hanagan - Turf Topics: Opener at Thirsk is chance to get off to top start

Jockey Paul Hanagan and trainer William Haggas (right). Picture: Chris Ison/PA
Jockey Paul Hanagan and trainer William Haggas (right). Picture: Chris Ison/PA
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With the Go Racing in Yorkshire Summer Festival in full swing, I have a local double header this afternoon – at the racecourse closest to home, Thirsk.

I will then head to York for the only evening meeting on the Knavesmire.

I aim to be improving my record of two winners on Knavesmire this season.

Paul Hanagan

I am hopeful of getting the afternoon off in the best possible way on Cameo Star who goes in the 1.20pm.

He ran green on his debut at Carlisle but by the time he had his second run, the penny had dropped and he won well. I feel he has a very decent chance.

After riding in the 4.35pm race, it’s into the car for the short trip to York which hosts evening racing, including the first of two music concerts in the space of two days.

My focus will not be on Jess Glynne though. I aim to be improving my record of two winners on Knavesmire this season.

Entsar, trained by Yorkshireman-in-exile William Haggas, offers me my best chance from my quartet of rides. She goes for the feature event, the Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Lyric Fillies’ Stakes at 7.30pm.

She has a victory to her name at Newbury from last season, while I was fourth on her on her most recent run at Newcastle, so a share of the record £50,000 prize pot is in her compass.

Richard Fahey has quite a few runners tomorrow at York and I’ll mention a couple of them later.

But I will be off to Ascot, I am very excited about riding Dance Diva for team Musley Bank in the Group Three Princess Margaret Juddmonte Stakes.

She is undefeated in her three races and I expect another big performance from her. She’s a filly I like a lot and I was in the saddle for her first two victories at Redcar and Haydock. I think she’ll run a big race as she takes on Group class horses for the first time. All being well, Dance Diva is a filly that could be at York for the Group 2 Sky Bet Lowther Stakes at the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival, appropriately staged on Thursday, Ladies Day.

I am also very pleased to have been booked to ride Alwahsh, another William Haggas-trained runner, in the ownership of Sheikh Hamdan.

The silks will feel very familiar after my stint in Newmarket as his first jockey, I watched the horse win at Nottingham on his most recent run and he looks a very useful sort. The yard will be hoping for an across-the-land double as they run two in the feature race at York, Group Two Sky Bet York Stakes.

It falls to Hathal or Victory Bond to add to the impressive 10 winners already recorded by William Haggas at York this year, I have a hunch that Philip Makin aboard the latter could provide No 11.

For visitors to York, I would watch out for George Bowen from Richard Fahey’s yard in the Sky Bet Dash at 2.40pm. I won on him two runs ago at Nottingham and he is a good horse.

Any race at York is competitive, with valuable sprints like this one, especially so, but I expect him to give my colleague Tony Hamilton a very good chance of a £50,000 winner. The sponsors place him towards the top end of the betting market.

Barry McHugh, who triumphed for Richard Fahey on Bengali Boys in the Super Sprint at Newbury six days ago, heads to York to get the leg up on Starlight Romance in the Win £100K For Free At Now Handicap at 2.05pm. Again, it’s a competitive race but this filly could provide an early winner for a big crowd looking to cheer both the horses and All Saints on the music stage.

Finally, it’s only fitting that I use this column to pay a tribute. It is under a week since the very tragic death of Stephen Yarborough at Haydock, where he was leading the stalls team.

As he lived in Great Habton, I had known Stephen since I was an apprentice and it was such a shock and just so sad.

He was a real gentleman and very kind to the lads from the Weighing Room.

Stalls handlers do a fantastic job and every jockey is grateful for the help they give us, particularly when we have problems with a horse.

All of our thoughts are very much with Stephen’s family, and friends; many of the latter will be his work colleagues who continue to do such a sterling job.

York’s Music Showcase Weekend is tonight and tomorrow afternoon. Jess Glynne performs after racing this evening, while All Saints come on stage after the last race tomorrow. The racing highlights are the EBF Lyric Stakes and Sky Bet York Stakes. Admission on the gates for both events or to find out more visit