Jason Maguire will appeal the 14-day suspension he received at Ludlow yesterday which would rule him out of competing at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
The Grand National-winning rider finished seventh aboard the Ben Pauling-trained Born To Succeed in the concluding Onny Maiden Hurdle, which was won by 20-1 shot King Alfonso.
Maguire’s partner was beaten 23 and three-quarters of a length, but the local stewards found him guilty of “schooling/conditioning the horse on the racecourse”.
The jockey, who won the 2011 National aboard Ballabriggs, is due to be sidelined between 4-17 March which would see him miss the four-day Festival, which begins on 10 March. But Maguire, who missed last season’s National Hunt showcase meeting due to injury, said: “I have no comment to make but I’m definitely going to appeal.”
Born To Succeed was also banned from running in any race for 40 days, with Pauling fined £3,000. Pauling refused to comment on the incident, but said he, too, would appeal the stewards’ decision. A statement issued by the BHA read: “The rider stated that his instructions were to drop the gelding in and get him settled and then to do his best work late on.
“He added that he asked the gelding to make up ground in the back straight but was forced to go wide on the track. He further added that the gelding became very tired at the entrance to the home straight, was not quick enough to take any gaps and did not jump well in the closing stages.
“He therefore felt it prudent to keep a good hold of the horse. The trainer confirmed that the rider had ridden in accordance with his instructions and added that Born To Succeed is an extremely nervous horse at home.
“He was therefore keen that the horse should be allowed to get home in its race in order to progress its education.
“Having heard their evidence and viewed recordings of the race, the stewards found the rider in breach of Rule (B)59.2 and the trainer in breach of Rule (C)45.4, in that they were guilty of schooling/conditioning the horse on the racecourse.
“They fined the trainer £3,000 and suspended the horse from running in any race for 40 days from Saturday, February 21 to Wednesday, April 1 inclusive.”
Meanwhile, Willie Mullins has called for prize-money for the Grade Ones at the Cheltenham Festival “to be at least doubled”.
The Irish champion jumps trainer believes National Hunt racing lacks an end-of-season crescendo compared to the Flat, with a significant cash injection crucial to injecting new life into the sport. He said: “I think jumps racing is such a huge ambassador for racing. Apart from the Grand National, which is a handicap, our major prize (Gold Cup) is probably (worth) the price of an expensive National Hunt horse.
“For me, that’s not fair and it’s not on considering what owners do for the sport of racing. I’d like to see a Champions day, or weekend, in jumps racing.
“When I see what happens in Punchestown over five days, with Grade Ones every day, it’s a natural end to both seasons (British and Ireland) and fits in beautifully after Cheltenham and Aintree. Possibly England could do the same and maybe the prize-money in Cheltenham for the Grade One races could be at least doubled, if not more.”
Mullins also feels jumps racing is missing out on a glorious opportunity to promote itself by not staging better quality action during the week. He said: “In racing, people aspire to go to Cheltenham. In 20 years’ time if midweek racing goes into weekend racing, they are just going to be lost in the middle of soccer matches and rugby matches and everything.
“That’s why I feel midweek racing is so crucial to our sport. They have everything to themselves, without any other sport.”
The jumps season at Musselburgh concludes this afternoon and Jim Goldie is hoping for another big course run from Silver Duke.
The bottom-weight, partnered by Brian Harding, faces nine rivals in the Forth One Boogie In The Morning Handicap Hurdle.
Keith Dalgleish has booked Denis O’Regan for Ginger Jack while another handicap debutante, Donald McCain-trained Wilcos Mo Character, made all in a bumper at Musselburgh in 2013.
Edinburgh-born Karen McLintock, set to saddle her first Crabbie’s Grand National runner in the shape of Carlito Brigante, sends Northern Executive back over fences from her Tyneside stable for the William Hill-On Your Mobile Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.