IT LOOKS like the record books will be rewritten. No northern jockey has ever won the Flat championship more than once, but Paul Hanagan is on the threshold of making history before the week is out.

Come Doncaster on Saturday, when the curtain falls on the 2011 turf campaign, expectations are high that Hanagan, after another gruelling season which has seen the Malton jockey ride in well over 1,000 races, will repeat his title victory of 12 months ago and again be sprayed with champagne and hoisted shoulder-high in triumph by his colleagues.

Last year’s scenes had to be seen to be appreciated.

Town Moor was buzzing with excitement as Hanagan, after a tense and thrilling battle with Richard Hughes, beat his arch-rival by just two winners to become only the third northern jockey in 110 years to take the Flat crown after Kevin Darley in 2000 and the little-known Elijah Wheatley in 1910.

For Hanagan, completely drained by the physical and mental pressure of the closing weeks, his joy and delight at emerging the victor was underpinned by sheer relief that it was all over.

Similar emotions are likely to be felt on Saturday.

Winning championships, no matter what the sport, is not supposed to be easy. Silvestre de Sousa and Kieren Fallon have been breathing down Hanagan’s neck this season for longer than he cares to remember, and while six-times champion Fallon has now faded away, de Sousa, the pint-sized Brazilian atom, has continued to apply maximum pressure – and will continue to do so, or at least try to do so, until the final race at Doncaster.

Nevertheless, the fat lady is beginning to warm up her larynx after Hanagan’s terrific Tuesday.

Already long odds-on favourite going into the final few days, he cut the price even more when claiming three winners at Redcar yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, while de Sousa was flying back to Britain having ridden in Australia’s Melbourne Cup in the early hours.

Indeed, Skybet announced they were already paying out on Hanagan’s title success.

De Sousa is unlikely to put up the white flag just yet, though.

After getting off his lengthy flight this morning (Wednesday), he was due to go straight to Nottingham races to resume his championship assault, and then on to Kempton’s evening meeting. Hanagan, courtesy of a helicopter, will be riding at the same two fixtures.

It’s tense stuff and every winner counts for plenty.

While de Sousa, based at Thirsk, has received the fullest support this term from his new alliance with Middleham trainer Mark Johnston, for whom he was riding in the Melbourne Cup, Hanagan has, once again, had Richard Fahey, his long-time boss, right behind him.

The Musley Bank trainer has provided his number-one jockey with more than 70 winners in a season which has seen Hanagan chalk up success for no fewer than 52 different trainers.

His vast tally of winners has been registered at 26 different courses around the country, and his consistency has been staggering.

June was his worst month, with a mere (by his standards) 10 winners. But in April, May, July and September, he averaged a mid-20s mark, while August saw him boot 30 winners, with 19 coming his way in October.

The tens of thousands of miles he has travelled in pursuit of claiming his second crown are part and parcel of the job, but they do tend to take their toll, and his hard-working Audi will doubtless be as relieved as its 31-year-old owner come the weekend.

Whatever the outcome, the father-of-two who hails from Warrington and who has spent his entire career in Ryedale – he worked for Norton jumps trainer Malcolm Jefferson before transferring to Fahey when it became evident his tiny stature was more in keeping with a Flat jockey – has had a wonderful year.

Mid-summer saw him post a career milestone of 1,100 winners, while eight winners at York earned him the Knavesmire top jockey crown for a third time.

It is, though, Britain’s top jockey title which is most important – and which now beckons. There is still work to be done, decisions to be made, miles to be driven, horses to ride, and pressures to withstand before the final day dawns – and before he can celebrate the wedding of his good friend and weighing-room colleague, PJ McDonald, on Saturday night.

“It’s going to be a long tough week,” Hanagan admitted after scoring on Fahey’s Gritstone at Wolverhampton on Monday.

“I can’t afford to drop my guard and I’ll be keeping my head down right until the final race on the final day. I am just so grateful to all the people who have supported me, especially the boss.”

Hanagan is on the doorstep of a major achievement, a history-making feat. Indeed, there is likely to be a double-dose of history in the creation at Doncaster.

Never before have two North Yorkshire-based jockeys fought out the finish of the Flat championship. That in itself is a sight to savour. Roll on Saturday for the finishing touches to be added to a momentous campaign for two lightweight men with giant-sized talent.

• Forget McCoy and Walsh, Johnson and Murphy – none of the top jump jockeys can hold a candle to the strike-rate this season of Ryedale conditional rider Dean Pratt, who is attached to the Highfield stable of John Quinn.

The 21-year-old Irishman has had five mounts this term and – wait for it – has ridden only one loser.

Three of his five wins have come on the same horse, Folk Dance, who gained his latest success at Huntingdon last Sunday and who was completing an unbeaten hat-trick for his young jockey.

Pratt’s other success was achieved at Haydock last week on the stable’s up-and-coming juvenile hurdler, Royal Bonsai.

Pratt, who had two unsuccessful mounts last season, can hardly believe how his luck has changed. “The boss felt I wasn’t ready last season,” he explained. “But things have gone really well this season and I am grateful for the chances I’m getting.”

With an 80 per cent strike-rate, Dean Pratt is the jockey with the Midas touch.

• Ayr’s final Flat meeting of the season last Saturday took place on atrocious ground, but the rain-soaked course proved tailor-made for River Dragon, who was in his element.

The proven mudlark, trained at Norton by Tony Coyle, made virtually all the running under a well-judged ride from Barry McHugh to win the staying handicap in gutsy style at odds of 2-1. McHugh was following up his 33-1 success earlier in the week at Nottingham on the Julie Camacho-trained Artlanna.

• Musselburgh provided teenage amateur Aaron James with a day to remember last week when he rode his first winner at his seventh attempt.

Partnering Strikemaster for his father, Norton trainer Lee, James, whose brother Kyle is an accomplished conditional jockey, gained a five lengths triumph at odds of 9-2.

• It was some achievement by Brian Ellison to prepare and qualify two horses to run in yesterday’s richly-endowed Melbourne Cup, but, alas, there was no joy for the Norton trainer. His two runners, Moyenne Corniche and Saptapadi, finished 15th and 16th in the Flemington showpiece.