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Russell backing Maguire

Jason Maguire will face an anxious wait this evening as he prepares for tomorrow's appeal against the seven-day ban he received at Doncaster last week.

If upheld, the five-day ban for marking his mount and two days for excessive frequency of the whip, will rule him out of the opening day at the Cheltenham Festival and Peddlers Cross in the Champion Hurdle.

Maguire has the support of the racing fraternity and Davy Russell -- who is currently second in the Irish jockeys championship -- is backing up the likes of Ruby Walsh and voicing his support for his fellow weighroom colleague.

"It's very difficult for Jason and I hope he gets let off it," Russell told the Herald.

"We (jockeys) are in a very tough position as obviously Jason's horse was responding for every time he hit him and he gave the horse a fantastic drive and a great ride on the day. Anyone who saw it would agree."

The Youghal native was keen to stress how the whips jockeys use are now a lot kinder on the horses than in previous years.



Sticks

"The sticks that we use are very much cushioned and are not causing any harm to horses and, if anything, they are there to encourage a horse."

Indeed, the Gigginstown House retained jockey is hopeful of a change to the system which is in place for suspensions as Maguire now faces the prospect of missing a life-changing day on Peddlers Cross, who is prominent in the betting for a fascinating renewal of the Champion Hurdle.

"For Jason to get done at Doncaster in a run-of-the-mill midweek meeting and for that to knock him out of the Olympics of our

sport, which Cheltenham is, is terrible," said Russell.

"It's like stopping Usain Bolt from running at the Olympics for something very small. It's wrong in my opinion.

"An incident on a small track shouldn't knock him out of Cheltenham. Jason got five days mandatory for marking the horse and two days for excessive force whereas Richard Johnson got a day's suspension for excessive force. If the stewards had given Jason the same as Richard I imagine he would have taken it and it would have been fine."

Russell concluded by telling the Herald he feels that Maguire has a good chance of getting his ban reduced and thus allowing him to take the enviable spin on Peddlers Cross.

"I think it can, of course, be lifted to let him ride on the Tuesday as what he done didn't exceed any mad rules.

"He was just trying to win the race for the owner, trainer and, of course, the punters who are very important to the game."