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Hanagan is value at 12-1 for riders' title.

THERE are some times when an innocent remark can lead you to untold riches. While downing half a dozen pints of amber nectar in the battle cruiser the other night, Each-Way Ernie piped up that Paul Hanagan would be champion jockey this season.

"There is more chance of Colin Murray being crowned sports presenter of the year," chortled Half-Wit Harry, a failed ex-public schoolboy who has applied for a job with Racing for Change.

His crafty and cunning plan is to have breakfast meetings, starting at seven bells, so Billy Bunters can go racing, and then shoot off into work. Well, it makes more sense than lunchtime racing, doesn't it? By the time your ever-so-slightly elephants correspondent returned to Castle Couch, the idea of a northern jockey being crowned top gun was beginning to grow on me. Wasn't Kevin Darley once champion jockey, before he became the most boring BBC racing pundit in Christendom? Current incumbent Ryan Moore is a bestpriced 1-3 with Ladbrokes to retain the title, but he is engaged in a very tight three-way battle with Richard Hughes and Hanagan, with only a few winners between them.

Moore is banned today and tomorrow, and Hughesie misses three days at the end of the week, so any more suspensions could lead to longer holidays. Throw in the fact that any jockey could get injured at any time, and the 1-3 Moore makes as much appeal as a bad pint. He was riding at the Curragh on Saturday, and there will be other days when he has to travel abroad to ride for Sir Michael Stoute.

Laddies and Hills have Hanagan a 7-1 chance, while VC go 8-1, but Paddy Power are out on a limb by offering a mouth-watering 12-1. It was interesting that last Friday at Doncaster, Hanagan beat Moore into second place twice, and as he can do 7st 12lb, the northern hotshot is going to ride in virtually every race at whatever meeting he rides.

Richard Fahey has given him 22 per cent of his winners, but the likeable pilot has an overall strike-rate of 18 per cent, so he is not so reliant on Fahey as I first suspected. Hanagan tops the charts for most horses ridden this summer, and that stat is a very favourable one when looking for the main man.

This year's fight for the jockeys' crown looks likely to go right to the wire, so by taking 12-1 about the very talented Hanagan, I'm sure we will be able to hedge the wager at some stage of the season.

Martin Pipe once told me claimers were his favourite races, as trainers get to handicap the horses themselves. My record in these events is about 100 winners behind the great man, but I do like them on the sand, as you can throw out over half the animals straight away on ratings.

The 7f Wolverhampton Holiday Inn Apprentice Claiming Stakes (4.00) is a case in point, as only five of the dozen participants can win the race.

Southandwest beat Ravi River by a length and a quarter over course and distance last January, and should confirm the form on 1lb worse terms. But Stan Moore's beast has not won since Willie Carson was riding.

Flores Sea has a squeak on official figures, but has run three times at this track and performed poorly on each occasion.

By Command has winning form at the track, but that was over 1m1f, so connections will be hoping there is a strong early gallop to bring his stamina in to play. I can't see that happening.

By process of elimination, that leaves us with Orpenindeed, who is ridden by useful 5lb claimer Antioco Murgia.

Marco Botti's veteran has winning course form over 6f, and ran well behind the lobbed-in Aeroplane over 7f as well. He's consistent and is well drawn in stall one.

In the 1m3f CLIC Sargent Charity Fillies' Handicap (8.40) at Windsor I'm prepared to give Queen Of Wands another chance back on a sound surface.

Hughie Morrison's filly was all over the place on soft ground at Warwick in early May, but before that she finished two lengths third in a 1m2f maiden on this course in April.

The runner-up, Plus Ultra, has since come out and finished second in a 12-runner Goodwood handicap off a perch of 70, so you would like to think Queen Of Wands ought to be competitive off a mark of 65.

Today's bets Paul Hanagan Champion jockey 5pts win at 12-1 with Paddy Power Orpenindeed 4.00 Wolverhampton 3pts win Queen Of Wands 8.40 Windsor 2pts win

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Paul Hanagan: going to pick up plenty of decent rides in the coming months
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 28, 2010
Words:790
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