Dubai: Shadwell Chairman Mirza Al Sayegh insists that the sacking of two-time British champion Paul Hanagan as stable jockey to Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, was in the best interests of the sport.
Hanagan took over the mantle from Richard Hills in 2012, was shockingly told that his contract, which runs till March 2017, was terminated with immediate effect last week.
“In my 30 years or so with Shaikh Hamdan I have learnt that the relationship between Shaikh Hamdan and his trainer or jockey, is more than business. It’s personal,” he said.
“Shaikh Hamdan likes to pick up the phone and talk, to discuss certain matters. That’s 80 per cent of the job requirement. The remaining 20 per cent is the experience, the age, the results.
“Paul clearly did not fulfil that requirement, on a number of occasions. Shaikh Hamdan was not happy and decided to terminate his contract immediately.
“However, Shaikh Hamdan being the gentleman that he is, has thanked Paul for the five years he spent as his retained jockey and has wished him well in his future endeavours.”
Highlighting the personal equation Shaikh Hamdan shares with his trainers and jockeys Al Sayegh said: “Selecting a trainer, or jockey, is not an easy process.
“A couple of years ago, when Marcus Tregoning left Kingwood House Stables it was a big process to find the right trainer to replace him. We wanted someone, who will fill all the requirements needed.
“Ultimately, we selected Owen Burrows, because he fitted the bill.”
Al Sayegh revealed that the strong sporting relationship Shaikh Hamdan shared with his trainers and jockeys also applied to his brothers.
“I can say that the relationship is very strong and brotherly, and the result is more appreciated,” he said. “Quite often Shaikh Hamdan will call a trainer to inquire whether any of his brothers horses are also running in a race to find out if that horse can compete to win. He then sometimes withdraws his horse to support his brother.
“Shaikh Hamdan is competitive, but he does not like to compete with his brother just to win a race. He has better ideas and a better vision behind racing.”
Hanagan, 36, has ridden seven Group 1 winners for Shaikh Hamdan including Taghrooda, who gave him his first British Classic success in the Oaks in 2014.
He also completed a treble of Group 1 victories aboard Muhaarar in 2015.
However, European success has been at a premium this season, with Hanagan riding just 51 winners and none at the Group 1 level in the famous blue and white silks since partnering Muarrab to win the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan in March.
Hanagan also thanked Shaikh Hamdan for giving him the opportunity “to ride some very special horses, both in Europe and Dubai over the past five years,” Hanagan said.
“Shaikh Hamdan is a true gentleman, it’s has been a privilege to ride for him and I would like to wish him and the team at Shadwell [Stud] every success in the future.”