PAUL Hanagan has been warming up for the forthcoming 2013 British flat racing season with a successful spell in Dubai.
The 32-year-old Latchford-born jockey won the Group 3 UAE 2,000 Guineas Trial on board the Mike de Kock trained four-year-old Soft Falling Rain at Meydan, indicating that Hanagan’s second year as stable jockey for top owner Sheik Hamdan Al Maktoum may well surpass the pair’s excellent 2012 debut campaign.
In 2012 Hanagan landed a Group 1 win aboard the Richard Fahey-trained Mayson in the Darley July Cup, while victory for his new boss came on Ghurair in the Tattersalls Millions Trophy, but the classy victory at Meydan on Thursday suggests a debut Classic win will be a definite target for Hanagan on his return from Dubai in March.
Hanagan travelled out to the Middle East in December for his first local season as Sheik Hamdan’s retained jockey and has kept his eye in over the winter, riding numerous winners both at Meydan and Jebel Ali.
A former stable jockey to Dubai-based trainer Paddy Rudkin in 2001, Hanagan kick-started his winter season in perfect fashion by booting Haatheq to an impressive nine-length victory in the featured one-mile race at Jebel Ali at his first meeting.
The wins have continued to flow over the last few months, with Hanagan’s latest success coming on the former William Haggas-trained Jawhar in the one-mile two furlongs Al Basti Cup at Meydan on Saturday.
The British flat season starts officially at Doncaster on March 23, though with Guineas hopes in the shape of Soft Falling Rain and Ghurair to look forward to in 2013, Hanagan will have a job keeping his mind off May’s Classic meeting at Newmarket.