Paul Hanagan leads Richard Hughes by two in jockeys’ championship

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Paul Hanagan leads Richard Hughes by two in jockeys’ championship
Floodlit racing at Kempton Park may never have taken off quite as much as had been hoped but nights like this will help the cause.
Paul Hanagan left track the same way that he had arrived at Lingfield Park some nine hours before, with a two-winner lead over Richard Hughes in what has become an enthralling battle for this season’s Flat jockeys’ championship.
The marketing gurus at Racing For Change would probably want the turf season concluded weeks ago at one of the more glamorous venues, rather than a succession of all-weather fixtures. And Hughes might have been grateful as it would have allowed him to jet off to Kentucky to ride Paco Boy in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Saturday night.
In truth the few hardy souls who ventured to Kempton can hardly generate the same atmosphere as a packed house under twin spires of Churchill but Hanagan and Hughes are ensuring that this season is going out with a bang when it concludes at Doncaster the day after Guy Fawkes Night.
Hughes missed out on what looked to be a strong chance in the opener at Lingfield’s afternoon card when War Painter was beaten a neck by Dubarshi. Hanagan then returned fire when Ritual finally got through to the fourth race although he had a far from easy and was nearly stopped in his tracks, accidently, by the Hughes-ridden Yurituni.
Hughes hit back with winners in the fifth and sixth races at Kempton’s evening fixture but, just as the Irishman might have thought that he would go into the final 48 hours of this marathon slog closer to parity, Hanagan finished as he had started. Hughes went for the winning post on High On A Hill early in the home straight but Hanagan always had him lined up on Iron Condor, who ran on strongly to beat Regency Girl by one-and-three-quarter lengths with High On A Hill third.
Hanagan goes into Friday’s meetings with a numerical advantage in more way than one. He will be riding at both Flat meetings with six rides at Southwell in the afternoon and then another five under the floodlights at Wolverhampton.
Hughes by contrast has just the three rides at Wolverhampton, although he has picked up a plum spare ride on the well-backed Senate, in the November Handicap, among seven rides at the concluding meeting at Doncaster.
One horse that both jockeys would dearly like to get the ride on is So You Think, who will be trained by Aidan O’Brien for next season.
The four-year-old colt has become the star of Australian racing having won both the Cox Plate and Mackinnon Stakes for trainer Bart Cummings. He was the heavy favourite to win his third Group One race in just 10 days when he ran in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday but finished three-and-a-quarter lengths third to Americain.
A statement issued by Coolmore on Thursday said: "Coolmore Australia have entered into an agreement with the owners of So You Think to purchase an interest in the brilliant son of High Chaparral with a view to the champion joining their stallion roster at the end of his race career.
“So You Think will however race on for the immediate future, with the intention being for him to join Aidan O'Brien for a European campaign in 2011. Negotiations are still ongoing with some issues still to be resolved."
This is not the first time that O’Brien has trained a horse who began his career in Australia. In 2008 Haradasun won the Group One Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot and this season Starspangledbanner also won a Group One race at the royal meeting, in the Golden Jubilee Stakes, and then went on to win the July Cup at Newmarket.



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