Maguire gets back in groove on return
Though his use of the whip on the winner arguably contributed to the traumas they have endured during his recent absence, Jason Maguire's rivals will readily acknowledge his success in the John Smith's Grand National in April as sealing his arrival among their elite.
And while his hopes of consolidating that status this season were painfully interrupted by a fall at Cartmel in August, he looks ready to make up for lost time, judging by his comeback at Hereford yesterday.
Maguire won on his only mount of the day -- Bonne Fee (18/1) in the bumper -- having been made to work so hard that she traded at 500/1 in running on Betfair.
"I've had a bit of a blow, because she was very green and was off the bridle some way out," Maguire said. "It's great to ride a winner with my first ride back."
Having watched from the sidelines as irate riders won a series of concessions on the new whip regulations, which were partly stimulated by his ride at Aintree, he is now looking forward to the resumption of his flourishing partnership with Donald McCain.
However, the stable's biggest winner in the meantime -- Weird Al, in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby -- will again be ridden by Timmy Murphy in the big race at Haydock tomorrow.
Having suffered a neck injury, Maguire is taking things one step at a time and he now turns his attentions to some hurdle mounts at Haydock today.
McCain, who has booked Tony McCoy for the promising Tornado Bob in the novice chase on the same card, will send Maguire to ride Overturn in the Coral Hurdle to Ascot tomorrow -- when Weird Al will be one of five rivals for Long Run in the Betfair Chase.
Not that Maguire is complaining, obliged as he is to the British Horseracing Authority's chief medical adviser, Dr Michael Turner, for bringing forward his return by a couple of days.
"Overturn is getting a good bit at the weights from Oscar Whisky, so if he's ever going to beat him he'll have the chance on Saturday," he said.
A winner earlier on the Hereford card represented a still more significant milestone for Tom Symonds, former assistant to Nicky Henderson.
Alpha Way (12/1), his 12th starter since setting up down the road near Ross-on-Wye, had been discarded by McCain since last season but got Symonds off the mark with a runaway win in the novices' handicap chase.
Meanwhile, Graeme McPherson left the British Horseracing Authority yesterday with his reputation as a trainer and, more importantly, as a Queen's Counsel fully restored after his appeal against running a 'non-trier' at Chepstow in October was upheld.
McPherson, who trains 33 horses near Stow-on-the-Wold, was fined £3,000, jockey Jodie Mogford stood down for 14 days and his horse Traditional Bob banned from racing for 40 days for "intentionally failing to ensure the horse ran on its merits".
Yesterday, however, with the benefit of two camera angles which were not available to the Chepstow stewards, and McPherson's lengthy written submission to the panel, the trainer and Mogford were cleared of any 'intention'. (© Independent News Service)