Maguire out of Cheltenham Festival as appeal fails

Jason McGuire: 14-day suspension. Picture: PA
Jason McGuire: 14-day suspension. Picture: PA
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Jockey Jason Maguire has lost an appeal against the 14-day ban he picked up at Ludlow last week which rules him out of the Cheltenham Festival.

It will be the second year in succession Maguire has missed the Festival after being seriously injured on the Monday before the meeting last year.

The Grand National-winning rider finished seventh aboard the Ben Pauling-trained Born To Succeed in the Onny Maiden Hurdle, which was won by 20-1 shot King Alfonso. Maguire’s ride was beaten 24 lengths, but the local stewards found him guilty of “schooling/conditioning the horse on the racecourse”.

The jockey is due to be sidelined between 4-17 March but did have his deposit returned. As for Pauling, his original £3,000 fine also remains and Born To Succeed is banned form running for 40 days.

The British Horseracing Authority’s disciplinary panel heard evidence from both Pauling and Maguire and viewed video evidence.

Following the enquiry the BHA released the following reasoning: “The Panel noted that Born To Succeed was dropped out towards the rear of the field for the first three flights, whilst pulling hard, before making gradual progress in the back straight. After jumping the sixth hurdle the gelding was asked for a response and improved its position to be in contention, with the eventual winner only two lengths or so ahead.

“Shortly before crossing the road for the last time, the leading group began to quicken away, and Maguire administered one other reminder. The Panel did not accept Maguire’s evidence that the horse was too tired to be asked for any further effort. Off the final bend and in the home straight over the last three hurdles, Maguire failed to be seen to ask Born To Succeed for a real and substantial effort to achieve the best possible placing and failed to be seen to take all other reasonable and possible measures to ensure his mount was given a full opportunity to obtain the best possible placing.

“The Panel noted that Pauling confirmed that Maguire had ridden in accordance with his instructions, and due to the gelding’s two previous runs, he was keen that Born To Succeed should be allowed to get home in its race. The Panel therefore found Maguire in breach of Rule (B)59.2 and Pauling in breach of Rule (C)45.4, in that they were guilty of schooling the gelding on the racecourse.”

Meanwhile, Frankie Dettori shone in Qatar yesterday as Dubday landed the Emir’s Trophy, the highlight of the three-day HH The Emir International Equestrian Sword Festival.

Successful 12 months ago on the Al Shaqab Racing-owned five-year-old, the popular Italian repeated the feat as the son of Dubawi beat former John Oxx inmate Ponfeigh under the floodlights at Al Rayyan racecourse

Drawn widest of all in stall 16 on the sharp right-handed track, the former Qatar Derby and Gold Cup winner was soon tucked in by Dettori and travelled powerfully for much of the mile-and-a-half journey.

Dubday was caught a little wide rounding the home turn and the response was not immediate once Dettori got to work, but he eventually found top gear and mowed down Ponfeigh and last year’s runner-up Peter Anders to emerge triumphant.

Dettori, who delighted the locals and international guests with his trademark flying dismount, said: “It was a lot closer than I thought. It took a bit of time to get going, but once the turbo kicked in I knew I was going to win.

“It was for the boss (Sheikh Joaan Al Thani), it’s the biggest day’s racing here and I was riding the best horse in Qatar.”

Al Shaqab’s racing manager, Harry Herbert, said: “Frankie is just great round here, he rides it so well – he is a magician.”