It's faint praise for Hanagan
Consecutive championships and a lucrative retainer for Sheikh Hamdan having failed to make the remotest impression on his innate humility, Paul Hanagan has no problem with the scenario facing him at Sandown tomorrow.
For in order to give Mukhadram a chance of reversing form with Al Kazeem in the Coral Eclipse Stakes, Hanagan must deflect at least some of the praise lavished upon him for an outstanding ride at Royal Ascot last month.
"To be honest, I felt a bit guilty to be taking so much credit," the jockey confessed yesterday.
"We've always thought a lot about this horse, and he has improved every time I've sat on him. He's still lightly raced, a very good-looking individual who seems a lot stronger this year."
Mukhadram was only run down by a neck in the Prince of Wales's Stakes, after Hanagan had sent him scuttling clear off the home turn. But it was not as if the pace had been farcically slow. This was simply a tremendously alert, enterprising ride on a colt who looks eligible to control the tempo once again tomorrow – not least after being drawn on the rail.
"I did manage to fill him up with a lovely breather before kicking at Ascot," Hanagan said. "But this is a very uncomplicated horse. He doesn't have to make the running. If someone else wants to go flat out, I'll be happy to take a lead. But if I find myself in front again, so be it. He does have this great long stride, and certainly seemed to enjoy things at Ascot."