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Modest Hanagan deserves his chance in the big time.

HOW many good news stories will be written between now and Gold Cup day a fortnight tomorrow remains to be seen.

We all know, but in a funny way are reluctant to acknowledge, that one of the most wonderful chapters in racing's history might be about to unfold if Kauto Star can conjure up the speed and strength one more time.

But regardless of whether Cheltenham proves to be a theatre of fulfilled dreams or vanquished hopes, there was one very good news story for the sport last week.

It came with the appointment of Paul Hanagan as No. 1 jockey to Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, thus elevating the reigning champion from prolific winner of generally small races to potential big-time pilot.

I had the huge pleasure of meeting Hanagan at the Stud and Stable Staff Awards this week and can confidently predict that even if he rides the next 50 Classic winners and retains the jockeys' title for the next two decades he will remain an admirably modest, friendly guy, who loves what he is doing and will never be guilty of taking his success for granted.

Hanagan has become a hugely popular figure and there is a general feeling of delight that he's been given such a high-profile position.

If things don't work out between Hanagan and Hamdan, one suspects it'll be because of a lack of ammunition rather than a lack of ability. I won't be alone in wishing this admirably downto-earth man the best of luck.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 1, 2012
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