Maguire racks up century as Diamond King reigns
JASON Maguire sealed his 100th winner of the season at Doncaster as the Meath man continues to lead the pack in vain pursuit of the untouchable Tony McCoy.
It was only last year that Maguire assumed the mantle from 14-time runner-up Richard Johnson, with whom he is closely matched again, but they are already more than 60 adrift of the perennial leader.
The century came aboard Diamond King for his 'boss' Donald McCain in the two-mile novice hurdle. "It's great to do it for Donald. If you'd said to me at the start of the season I'd get 100 by January, I'd have taken it," said Maguire, achieving the mark for the fourth time.
McCain added: "I'm pleased for Jason, he's a huge asset to the yard as well as being a mate." As for the winner's Cheltenham target, the trainer was coy about a Festival appearance as he sees him as a longterm chasing prospect.
A mild afternoon with the promise of good to soft ground drew runners from across the country, with David Pipe's Western Warhorse justifying the journey from Devon to land the novice chase.
James Evans brought about a change of fortunes for Softsong in division one of the maiden hurdle. The 5/1 chance drew a blank in two seasons with Philip Hobbs, but ultimately ground out a 10-length success under Liam Treadwell.
Act Alone, given a confident ride by Nico de Boinville, was a class apart in division two to give Nicky Henderson his first winner since Oscar Whisky on New Year's Day. The John Quinn-trained Forced Family Fun (5/1) put up a fine performance for a four-year-old to come out on top against his elders in the two-mile handicap hurdle.
Tom George and Paddy Brennan combined to land the three-mile handicap chase with the gallant Ifyousayso, which edged out one of the trainer's former horses, 4/1 favourite Triangular.
Caroline Bailey has her string in rude health and Chasse En Mer recorded another win for the stable when Robert Thornton's mount saw off favourite Queen Spud in the mares' hurdle.