Maguire on a high with Golden Kite

ADRIAN MAGUIRE didn’t half celebrate in style in the press room at Limerick last Sunday, after his Golden Kite had beaten Fisher Bridge a short head in the Munster National.

Lots of former top jockeys will tell you that training a winner is a bigger thrill than any experienced when they were riding.

As a jockey you go out and ride, do your best and, if you win, return to the number one berth, accept whatever accolades are going and then move on to the next horse.

But, as a trainer, your world is completely different. The Maguires of this world eat, sleep and drink their horses and are with them, literally, 24 hours of every day.

And that’s why, when a big race especially comes your way, the release of emotion is so understandable.

Maguire first came to the attention of most people in the point-to-point fields of Ireland.

He was absolutely astonishing at that game and, I would go so far as to say, was the best point-to-point rider I ever saw.

He landed races, particularly for Michael Hourigan, that he should never have won and brought riding between the flags to an altogether new dimension.

He first hit the headlines, big-time, in 1991. Maguire was champion point-to-point rider here and, then out of the blue, was booked for Omerta by

Martin Pipe for the Kim Muir at Cheltenham.

Only 19 years-of age and still working for Hourigan, he had never ridden in England or been to Cheltenham.

He proceeded to score on Omerta, of course, and his career was up and running. Soon he was in England full-time with Toby Balding, later David Nicholson, and, amazingly, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1992 on Balding’s Cool Ground.

I was right on the line that afternoon and, to this day, believe The Fellow should have won. Essentially, Maguire was far stronger in his finish than French pilot, Adam Kondrat.

He went on to ride well over 1,000 winners in Britain and is widely regarded as being the greatest jockey to have never been champion.

The closest he came was in 1994. Despite riding 194 winners, he was beaten by three by Richard Dunwoody, following a titanic tussle.

As well as winning the Gold Cup, he also landed two King Georges at Kempton, on Barton Bank and Florida Pearl, and will always be associated with the teak-tough Viking Flagship.

His career, though, was somewhat blighted by savage injuries. He broke his arm on four occasions, his leg once, wrist twice and collarbone many times.

Maguire missed four Cheltenham Festivals in eight years, getting injured three times coming up to the meeting and once, in 1995, due to the unexpected death of his mother.

But the worst injury of all came at Warwick in October of 2002 when he broke his neck. His career, at just 31 years of age, was effectively ended that day and he was lucky to avoid paralysis.

But, showing the courage and talent displayed as a jockey, Maguire has fought back and carved a decent training career for himself at Lombardstown, near Mallow.

And, judging by the manner in which he was able to hop around the press room at Limerick, as Golden Kite did the business, there seems to be little wrong with his neck, collarbone, arm or any other part of his anatomy these days.

If only I had availed of his advice to help myself to a slice of that 25-1 which was on offer about Golden Kite!

DO not, under any circumstances, miss the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket this afternoon.

This is going to tell us if Henry Cecil’s Frankel is the real deal or the most over-hyped colt for a very long time.

He produced a powerful performance to win at Ascot, on his latest appearance, and reports of his work on the gallops at Newmarket this week could hardly have been more positive.

Apparently, Saamidd is called Pegasus by Godolphin, so he doesn’t half add fuel to the fire.

And then there’s Dream Ahead, who blew me away when winning by nine lengths at Newmarket the other day.

He seems best with cut in the ground and that’s surely the reason there’s such a gap between himself and Frankel in the betting.

The build-up to the contest will have us believe that here are three champions taking each other on.

But at least one reputation, if not two, will be in tatters after the contest. I’d love to see some rain for Dream Ahead, but, one way or another, he might be the answer.

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