Aside from being a perennial favourite of former television presenter Derek “Tommo” Thompson, Paul Hanagan, as in ‘Paul Hanagan, the man again’, also had the distinction of becoming Champion Apprentice in 1981, with 81 winners, Champion Jockey twice, in 2010 and 2011, with 191 winners and 165 winners, respectively. In so doing, Hanagan not only became just the third northern-based jockey – after Elijah Wheatley in 1905 and Kevin Darley in 2000 – to win the jockeys’ title, but also the first such jockey to do so more than once.
Despite being available at odds of 40/1 to win the jockeys’ championship at the start of the 2010 season, Hanagan rode four winners on the opening day and, at one stage, held a considerable advantage over his rivals. However, from late October onwards, when he returned from suspension, Richard Hughes staged a late rally and, on the final day of the season, needed two winners to force a dead heat. He drew a blank, though, leaving the final score at 191-189 in favour of Hanagan.
Hanagan owed many of the winners he rode that season to his boss, Richard Fahey, with whom he had been since he was 17. From his base at Musley Bank Stables, near Malton, North Yorkshire, Fahey saddled 181 winners and earned over £2 million in prize money for the first time. Domestically, his biggest wins that year came courtesy of Wootton Bassett, who was unbeaten in five starts as a juvenile, including the DBS Premier Yearling Stakes at York and the Weatherbys Insurance £300,000 2-Y-O Stakes at Doncaster on home soil.
In 2011, Hanagan was, once again, involved in a ding-dong battle for the jockeys’ title, this time with Silvestre De Sousa who, at the time, lived in Yorkshire, but was soon to relocate to Newmarket as the jockey of choice for the Godolphin operation. Once again, the title race went down to the wire, with Hanagan eventually prevailing 165-161. His biggest prize of the season, the £150,000 Tattersalls Millions 3-Y-O Sprint at Newmarket, came courtesy of Sir Reginald, trained by Fahey, and his boss weighed in with another half a dozen winners at Listed or Pattern level to help him on his way to his second jockeys’ title.