Ban shatters Maguire's Cheltenham dream
Meath native Jason Maguire looks almost certain to miss the ride on leading Champion Hurdle hopeful Peddlers Cross after he picked up a seven-day ban at Doncaster yesterday.
Maguire has partnered the unbeaten six-year-old, who is a former Irish point-to-point winner, in all seven of his racecourse starts including last week when he was an 11-length winner at Kelso.
However, after going down in what was a thrilling finish to the beginners' chase at Doncaster yesterday, Maguire was deemed to have marked his mount Cool Mission and was handed a five-day ban for that offence and a further two for frequent use of the whip.
Maguire will appeal the ban, which is set to run from the 9th of March to the 15th, which is Champion Hurdle day and the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.
Jockeys are able to appeal and get a suspension put off for which they will miss a Grade One (or Group One on the Flat).
However, that rule is only applicable for bans of up to three days therefore it is not an option for Maguire.
However, he is entitled to appeal the ban and is likely to ask for the severity to be reduced, which would free him to renew his association with Donal McCain's leading Champion Hurdle contender.
Doncaster stipendiary steward Robert Earnshaw revealed: "Jason has been suspended for using his whip on Cool Mission.
The veterinary officer found that the horse had minor weals for which he was suspended for five days. He was also suspended for two days for using his whip with excessive frequency."
A devastated Maguire admitted: "It's very frustrating for me because it's the first day of Cheltenham and I'm due to ride Peddlers Cross.
"I'm obviously going to have to appeal and see what happens.
"I gave the horse a strong ride -- it's the marking that's caused the problem."
Maguire had given Cool Mission a terrific ride in which he almost overturned the odds-on favourite Beshabar, but now could miss a career changing ride at the holy grail next month.
"Once you mark a horse there's no comeback from that, but something has to be done about that rule," the jockey continued.
"We are all interested in the welfare of horses but there has to be some leeway for the jockeys."
McCain admitted that Maguire was a pivotal cog in his operation and was also raging at the prospect of not having the services of his stable jockey on the yard's biggest day.
"I don't stop horses, we don't abuse horses -- they are always at the tough end of racing -- and all we do is our best.
"The horse has been marked, but the horse is notoriously lazy at the best of times," said McCain.
"Jason is devastated as they've cost him a Champion Hurdle ride.
At least I've still got a Champion Hurdle horse
"Jason hasn't got anything and has put so much work in with the horse."