Having finally acclimated to Newmarket, Paul Hanagan is moving on to the UAE as Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's No 1 rider.
Jockey Hanagan gets another go around in the UAE
Paul Hanagan has spent the past 10 months adjusting to a new life at Newmarket as Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid's retained jockey, but now the 32-year-old rider must do it all over again in the UAE starting at Jebel Ali on Saturday.
Hanagan has five rides at the right-handed horseshoe course. He has three rides at Sharjah on Saturday and is slated for four at Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
The dual British champion will remain in Dubai until the end of the World Cup Carnival in March.
Hanagan was appointed to the post as No 1 jockey for the Minister of Finance after Richard Hills stood down in February. The new role required Hanagan to relocate some 200 miles to the home of British racing after a 17-year association with Richard Fahey in the north of England.
Hanagan had to develop an intimate understanding of the southern courses and he improved his strike rate at both of the Newmarket tracks as well as his records at Newbury and the less salubrious Lingfield Park.
Hanagan also had to come to terms with the multitude of gallops in Newmarket, a skill he can rely on to good effect over the next few months.
Sheikh Hamdan's horses in the UAE are spread around trainers Musabah Al Muhairi, Ali Rashid Al Raihe, Doug Watson, Erwan Charpy and Arabian handler Gill Duffield, and Hanagan is looking forward to riding for all of them.
"All trainers like to do things differently, not only on the racetrack, but also on their gallops riding work," Hanagan told The National.
"Richard Fahey has his own gallop, and I have had to get used to all the different gallops not only in Newmarket but with other trainers, too. I went to Richard Hannon's quite a lot during this season, and they made it very easy for me. It is like I'm starting out all over again."
Last season Hanagan flew to Dubai to partner Sir Reginald and Glen's Diamond for Fahey at Meydan Racecourse during the Carnival.
He did not win a race, which was a far cry from when he finished fifth in the UAE jockeys' standings during the 2003/04 season when riding for Paddy Rudkin, the retired master of Blue Stables.
At Nad Al Sheba, Hanagan rode the dirt as if he was a natural, but also rode around the UAE tracks including signing off his season at Abu Dhabi.
"I got my bearings then and have been looking forward to coming back for a while," he said. "I think I adjusted quite quickly to the new environment and to the nuances of the tracks.
"As for Meydan, I really like it. It is the kind of place that takes your breath away, really."
Of all his rides this weekend, it is Haatheq today in the Dh120,000 Conditions event sponsored by the Sheikh's Shadwell operation that Hanagan said is his best chance of kicking off his season in style.
"He was third behind Barbecue Eddie [trainer Doug Watson's dual winner this season] the last two times and that form has worked out well so I'm hopeful there," he said.
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