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Emotional Hanagan crowned champion

Paul Hanagan was crowned champion Flat jockey for 2010 after an epic battle with Richard Hughes concluded on the final day of the season at Doncaster.

Having led from the very first day of the campaign at Doncaster in March when he rode a four-timer, the Malton-based pilot got to lift the trophy back on Town Moor.

The likeable 30-year-old was forced to travel the length and breadth of the country in recent weeks in search of valuable winners, as Hughes pushed him every step of the way. Despite never taking the lead, Irishman Hughes had been in insatiable form of late and closed the gap on a seemingly daily basis.

The momentum swung one way and then the other in pendulum fashion, but after Hughes failed to land the feature race, the totesport.com November Handicap on Senate, Hanagan could finally believe he was the champion.

Hanagan, mobbed and cheered all the way back to the weighing room, where he was hugged by his colleagues, said: "I'm gobsmacked to be honest. I'd be here all day if I was to thank everybody who has helped me. They know who they are.

"I've been in front from day one. I've lived the past week out of a suitcase going to Kempton and Lingfield. I owe the boss (Richard Fahey) so much, I've been with him for 14 years and I owe him a lot. Also my agent Richard Hale - without him I wouldn't be here now.

"It sounds great being called champion jockey, I think it will take a while to sink in. I'd just like to say what a gentleman Richard Hughes has been, I had a lot of respect for him before but even more now."

Fahey said: "It's wonderful, it's some achievement, it's quite emotional. It's been very tough for the last three weeks, he's been down south away from home but it's nice to do it up here. He has fully deserved it, he's put all the work in. It's a bit like the Dingles and David and Goliath situation all rolled into one."

Hughes added: "I'm delighted for Paul, he's a great lad, it wasn't to be. I gave it a good go, my agent did a great job, I think I rode 23 winners in the last 10 days alone which is a feat in itself.

"The year is full of ups and downs, but most of my year was up. I missed Paco Boy (at the Breeders' Cup) because I didn't want to wonder 'what if' for the rest of my life. Paul deserves it, he's a true champion and a real gentleman."

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