Racing: Cash for Fortune

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The Independent Online
ADRIAN MAGUIRE'S following is reaching cult proportions. Fortune And Fame, Dermot Weld's Champion Hurdle favourite, was cut another two points to 5-1 by Ladbrokes yesterday following the news that Maguire will replace Brendan Sheridan in the saddle for the Irish Champion Hurdle on Sunday week. The clear implication is that Maguire will keep the ride at Cheltenham, writes Greg Wood.

Sheridan is a very capable rider, but many punters are now happy to back Maguire blind. 'Brendan gave the horse an excellent ride at Leopardstown (in last month's Bookmaker's Hurdle),' Weld said yesterday, 'but when people like Adrian are available they will ride for me. I have a very small stable of jumpers, and I have no retained rider.

'Brendan is a rider I'm very fond of, but he is retained by Ted Walsh and there were times in the past when I wanted Brendan and he wasn't available. This is the converse of that. '

Weld reported Fortune And Fame to be fit and well. 'We're getting a lot of rain, which makes it more difficult to train a horse with a history of tendon problems,' he said. 'But he worked this morning over a short distance and went extremely well.'

Martin Brennan was yesterday suspended for four days, starting on Friday, for misuse of the whip on Ottoman Empire at Nottingham on 1 January. Brennan hit the horse, trained by his father, Owen, 13 times after the final flight as he urged it to victory. Brennan was referred to the Jockey Club's disciplinary committee because it was his third offence for improper riding concerning misuse of the whip.