Injury hands Hanagan title boost

HAVING become just the third Northern-based rider to become champion Flat jockey in 105 years, Paul Hanagan now has an outstanding chance to defend his crown following Ryan Moore’s potentially season-ending injury at Glorious Goodwood.

Moore, the former champion and, potentially, Hanagan’s biggest threat, broke his humerus and thumb when his mount was brought down by a stricken horse that had broken its leg. Eight winners behind the Malton rider, he will not return until October’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at the earliest, according to the rider’s father Gary, a leading trainer.

It means the title battle has become a two-horse race between Hanagan and Thirsk-based Silvestre de Sousa, who is just six behind his Yorkshire rival.

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Both will be going all out to land the title and the Cock o’ the North prize that Racing For Change and the Yorkshire Post will award to the leading Northern-based rider.

With de Sousa suspended for four days later this week, Hanagan has a chance to pull clear – though it is theoretically possible that Kieren Fallon and William Buick could mount a challenge if they become the main beneficiaries of Moore’s injury and the rides that will now become available at Sir Michael Stoute’s yard.

Fallon was in the saddle when Mick Easterby’s Hoof It won the Stewards’ Cup 75 minutes after Moore’s injury, while in-form Buick was compiling an eye-catching four-timer at Newmarket.

However, Moore’s sickening fall highlighted, again, the inherent dangers of Flat racing. While Jamie Spencer escaped unscathed in the Goodwood pile-up, and Frankie Dettori narrowly avoided serious injury when Rewilding broke his leg at Ascot, Flat jockeys are only a millisecond away from disaster and have precious little protection when they are thrown into the ground. As such, Hanagan and de Sousa will be taking nothing for granted.

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Veteran Yorkshire trainer Easterby believes Hoof It will be “unbeatable” next year after becoming the first horse in the 161-year history of the Stewards’ Cup to carry 10-stone to victory. Top-class sprints now beckon.

Already a two-time winner at York this season, the Sheriff Hutton trainer intends to run the four-year-old in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at the Ebor Festival on August 19 if co-owners Lee Westwood, the top golfer, and sports agent Chubby Chandler, pay a £20,000 supplementary entry fee.

Easterby, who has just celebrated his 80th birthday, saddled Lochnager to win the Nunthorpe in 1976. Asked to compare the two, the trainer said: “He’s better than Lochnager. He wants another year on his back and he’ll be unbeatable.

“I bought him as a foal for £6,000, put him back in Doncaster Sale and nobody came, so I bought him back for £14,000 – unbelievable isn’t it? I actually own a half-share of him with Chubby and Lee, who have the other.”

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No horse had carried more than 9st 10lb to victory in the six-furlong dash until Hoof It spreadeagled his field under an inspired ride by Fallon, who tacked over to the favoured far side from an unpromising stall 18.

Fallon, the six-time champion jockey, credited Easterby with walking the track beforehand to establish the most advantageous going – and then said he would travel anywhere in the world to ride the horse.

It was some claim, given the controversy that the jockey found himself in earlier this year over his Epsom Derby riding arrangements.

Last night, Chandler indicated that York will be Hoof It’s next target.

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“I’m going to have a chat with Mick. I would think it’s likely he’ll go for the Nunthorpe,” he said.

Midday could bid for back-to-back successes in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks after claiming an unprecedented third triumph in the Nassau Stakes.

Sir Henry Cecil’s five-year-old had a few questions to answer following her comprehensive defeat at the hands of Misty For Me in Ireland last time but Midday silenced her critics with a comfortable victory over last year’s dual Oaks winner Snow Fairy.

Midday – a 2009 Breeders’ Cup heroine – beat Snow Fairy by three lengths in the Yorkshire Oaks last year and the pair could face off again on the Knavesmire on August 18.

“Hopefully, she will go for the Yorkshire Oaks, but we’ll feel our way and she’ll tell us what we should do,” said Cecil.