Paul Hanagan claims emotional win on Perfect Power at Royal Ascot just a year after suffering multiple back fractures in a horror fall
- Hanagan feared his career might be over following fall in February 2020
- The 40-year-old suffered multiple back fractures in a fall at Newcastle
- He hailed Thursday’s win as the greatest moment of riding career
The Norfolk Stakes might not be the biggest race of Royal Ascot but Paul Hanagan reckoned winning it on Thursday on Perfect Power was the greatest moment of riding career.
That’s because this time last year the two-time champion jockey feared the prospect of riding at any meeting again —let alone at another royal meeting — was touch and go.
Hanagan, 40, suffered multiple back fractures in a fall at Newcastle in February last year and was out until August.
Jockey Paul Hanagan claimed emotional win on Perfect Power at Royal Ascot on Thursday
After his narrow win on the 14-1 shot, who had won a Hamilton maiden race earlier this month for his boss, Yorkshire trainer Richard Fahey, Hanagan said: ‘Early on when I was in hospital I thought I was in trouble. The accident I had last year was a pretty bad one. I am lucky to be here at all never mind riding winners. The period after my accident was a character-building few months. I fractured my T3, T4 and T6 vertebrae and the T6 was properly crushed.
‘With the operation and the physio there were a few dark days. To make it back here and ride a winner tops everything I have done.’
Hanagan, who has ridden more than 2,000 winners including an Oaks and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Taghrooda and an Eclipse Stakes on Mukhadram, said the inspiration to return had come from his friend and former colleague Freddy Tylicki who was left paralysed from the waist down after a four-horse pile-up at Kempton in 2016.
Hanagan, who was riding his fifth Royal Ascot winner, added: ‘I realised what Freddy has been through and he has been my inspiration. He wasn’t as lucky as me. I have had a second chance and I really appreciate it.’
It was a nervous wait for Hanagan and Fahey while the photo-finish was studied.
Perfect Power beat Go Bears Go, who raced on the opposite side of the track with Project Dante, who didn’t get the clearest run up the rails, a further short head back in third as a length covered the first five.
Appropriately, Tylicki, working as a TV pundit, was present to see his friend’s emotional victory.