Paul Hanagan: “I’ve never seen a horse grow up the way he’s done”
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Steve Dennis 11:20AM 5 SEP 2016
FORMER champion jockey Paul Hanagan is hoping Muntahaa can ignite his season with victory in Saturday’s Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster.
Hanagan, whose high points in Britain this year have come in the form of a trio of Group 3 wins, takes aim at the final domestic Classic with the John Gosden-trained second favourite.
The jockey believes there is untapped potential in the lightly-raced Muntahaa, who finished third in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot before making all to win a Listed handicap at Chester last time out.
“I’ve never seen a horse grow up the way he’s done, ever since his first race back in April – after his first race I didn’t really know what to make of him,” said Hanagan, who was on duty at York the day Muntahaa won at Chester.
He added: “You might call him a little unlucky at Ascot, the mile-and-a-half start is downhill and then you sweep into the bend at Swinley Bottom, and he wasn’t quite ready for that.
“I was really pleased he won at Chester but I don’t think it showed his true ability, a big horse like him making all round a tight track. It really educated him, though. I loved the way he kept sticking his head out, he really wanted to win. It’ll have done him the world of good.”
No trip concerns
Muntahaa will be tackling the St Leger trip for the first time and is 7-1 with the sponsors behind even-money favourite Idaho.
“I’ve no concerns whatsoever over the trip – I think he stays very well – and I’m really looking forward to it because I’m sure he’ll run a very big race,” said Hanagan.
The confirmations for the St Leger, which will be shown on More4 due to Channel 4’s coverage of the Paralympics, will be revealed on Monday afternoon, but Gosden has already announced Wings Of Desire will not be heading to Doncaster.
Read more of Paul Hanagan’s interview with Steve Dennis in Monday’s Racing Post – download the iPad edition now