Paul Hanagan two ahead after last-race triumph

PAUL Hanagan will go into the penultimate day of the jockeys' championship battle that has lit up the end of the Flat season still with a lead of two over Richard Hughes.

The afternoon fare saw Hanagan add to his overnight lead of the same number when making no mistake on odds-on favourite Ritual at Lingfield for Jeremy Noseda.

A determined Hughes hit back in style with a brilliant double under the floodlights at Kempton to leave the title on a knife edge, only for Hanagan to secure what might be a pivotal success in the final race of the night courtesy of Iron Condor.

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Ritual is owned by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, whose Harry Herbert said: "Hughesie actually wanted the ride, but Paul has ridden this horse the last two times and won on him so it would have been very tough to have jocked him off. But Richard is riding a really nice two-year-old called Expose for us at Doncaster on Saturday and it's a fantastic battle between the two of them."

Just as Hanagan had made the most of an obvious winning chance, so did Hughes as he gave the Hughie Morrison-trained Queen Of Cash (7-2) a masterful ride in the nursery at Kempton to snatch a vital success.

Hughes had endured a trying time on Wednesday when adverse weather conditions meant his helicopter from Nottingham had to land in Leicester, meaning he failed to make the evening meeting at Kempton. Reflecting on that after Queen Of Cash, Hughes said: "That has made it worthwhile. The trip here was grand, I had to go back up (in the helicopter) to get my confidence back and I tell you what, I was glad to get down."

If the ride on Queen Of Cash was good, Hughes surpassed it with his effort on 13-8 favourite Dingaan in the claimer for Andrew Balding, winning going away from Hanagan on Vhujon. Just as the momentum seemed to be firmly with Hughes, Hanagan hit back in the finale through the James Eustace-trained Iron Condor.

The show moves on to Southwell and Wolverhampton today, with Hanagan riding at both, while Hughes will be in action solely at Wolverhampton.