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Champion Jockey Paul Hanagan targets big races in 2012
Hanagan says his priority this year will be new boss Sheik Hamdan, not chasing a third consecutive title
CHAMPION Jockey Paul Hanagan has admitted that retaining his title is at the ‘bottom of the list’ of priorities for the new flat season, which starts at Doncaster on Saturday.
The 31-year-old is preparing for the season in his new position of first jockey for owner Sheik Hamdan Al Maktoum, and has his eyes set firmly on the flat’s most prestigious races after two consecutive years of physically exhausting title chases.
“Retaining the Champion Jockey title is really at the bottom of the list this year, my main priority is Sheik Hamdan,” he said.
“I am used to running myself ragged over the course of a season, but this time I just want to be ready for the big races and I think it will do me the world of good.”
With the new turf season just two days away Hanagan believes he is in top form, an opinion backed by the Latchford-born jockey picking up three wins from just three rides at Lingfield last week.
“My treble was a great confidence boost,” he said.
“I have had four rides for Sheik Hamdan and two have won, so I couldn’t have wished for a better start.
“I’m delighted to have got the ball rolling early.”
Hanagan will miss the opening turf meeting at Doncaster on Saturday for the first time in 15 years after picking up a ride on the John Gosden trained Eshtibaak at Kempton.
But that also gives him the chance to ride for old connections, with his second and last ride of the day coming on the promising Richard Fahey four-year-old, Alben Star.