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Horse racing: All spruce for duo’s Derby debut
NORTH Yorkshire Derby hopeful Mickdaam reunites a prosperous partnership, both halves of which will be breaking new ground.
Having plied his trade as a racehorse trainer for just under 19 years, elevated himself from handling a single-figure string to a team of more than 160 horses, and sending out more than 1,200 winners to capture more than £1 million prize money, Malton’s Richard Fahey is preparing to have his first-ever runner in the Derby tomorrow.
And Mickdaam will have Fahey’s great friend and ally, champion jockey Paul Hanagan, in the saddle, himself on his first Derby mount.
Mickdaam, who booked his ticket to Epsom when securing a gutsy success in last month’s Group 3 Chester Vase, will represent the Malton trainer in Britain’s premier Classic, bidding for a share of the mind-boggling £1.325m prize fund on offer in the Investec-sponsored showpiece, which will be watched by millions around the world.
It is fitting that the jockey aboard Mickdaam will be Hanagan, Fahey’s long-time number-one pilot until he was snapped up earlier this year to ride as retained rider to Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.
Remarkably, despite being twice champion jockey, Hanagan has never before ridden in the Derby.
“I’m made up,” said Hanagan, after riding a couple of Kempton winners earlier this week. “My first ride in the Derby, I can’t wait. And it’s great for Richard as well.”
With his principal employer not represented on Saturday, Hanagan, who has continued to ride regularly for Fahey this season, is free to partner Mickdaam, on whom he scored at York last October when the Dubawi colt broke his maiden at his third attempt.
It had always been the plan that Mickdaam would then be transferred to Dubai to join South African trainer Mike de Kock, who duly placed him to win at Meydan over the winter months before seeing him finish fourth in the UAE Derby at the end of March.
Mickdaam then re-joined his former trainer at Musley Bank and is now set to run in the ‘proper’ Derby, the jewel in the crown of European racing.
“We’ve never had one good enough for a Derby before,” said Fahey, who trains Mickdaam for Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, who will be on hand to watch the horse take his chance against the cream of the three-year-old crop over a mile and a half.
It hasn’t been all plain sailing. Since his slender Chester win, gained in the hands of Tony Hamilton, Mickdaam has suffered an infection of an hock.
But a workout at Musley Bank last Saturday confirmed his well-being and it’s now all systems go to Epsom after the horse was put through what Fahey described as a “nice half-speed piece of work mid-week”.
Reported the in-form North Yorkshire trainer: “I’m delighted with him.
“Last year as a two-year-old, he was a bit of a shell, but he’s a stronger and more mature horse this year.”