Jockey Paul Hanagan has the backing of retiring predecessor Richard Hills

Richard Hills will retire as Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's premier rider after the Dubai World Cup in March.

DUBAI // Richard Hills, who will retire as Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's premier rider after the Dubai World Cup in March, on Thursday night congratulated his replacement, the reigning two-time British champion, Paul Hanagan.

Hills, 49, will continue to get first pick of Sheikh Hamdan's successful string until March. He said that the job, one of the biggest in racing, represented a fantastic opening for Hanagan.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for him and a wonderful place to work," said Hills. "He will have the chance to ride some great horses and to work with Sheikh Hamdan."

Hills, who has enjoyed a racing career that spans 33 years and claimed an astounding 1,840 winners, became Sheikh Hamdan's second jockey in 1995. He then stepped up to the premier slot when Willie Carson retired in 1997.

Since riding his first winner in 1979, his CV now boasts a roll-call of some the world's most coveted races, including three English 1000 Guineas, the English 2000 Guineas, two Champion Stakes, the Dewhurst Stakes and two Falmouth Stakes.

He also claimed the 1999 Dubai World Cup with Almutawakel, the 2002 Dubai Sheema Classic with Nayef and the 1999 Dubai Duty Free with Altibr.

"I have had a wonderful career and been part of an amazing team," said Hills. "It's impossible to sum up 30 years of riding in a few sentences, but it has been great."

Hills said that the racing community had been supportive on hearing the news of his retirement.

"I've had some wonderful texts from some good friends," he said.

sports@thenational.ae

Published: February 24, 2012 04:00 AM

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