Racing: Maguire and Dunwoody mix it

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RICHARD DUNWOODY rode a 59-1 double and Adrian Maguire walked on water in the rain here yesterday. The consensus was that the champion-elect was lucky to escape a ban after driving Ramstar to a short-head second place in the Westminster Motor Taxi Insurance Novices' Chase.

Maguire raised his whip arm 27 times from the last fence. Third-placed Declan Murphy, asked by some wag to defend his colleague at the inevitable inquiry, replied: 'He'll need more than me to help him this time, he'll need help from above.' Perhaps he got it. The stewards decided the horse was responding and no damage was done, and took no action.

Dunwoody, on the 14-1 winner Castle Diamond, rode like a demon to hold off his great rival after a stirring battle all the way up the straight.

Half an hour later Dunwoody got the better of Maguire again. Riding his first winner for his former guv'nor David Nicholson since joining Martin Pipe's yard, Dunwoody partnered Viking Flagship - who Maguire had rejected for his stablemate Waterloo Boy (finished last) - to a two-length victory in the day's big race, the two-mile Victor Chandler Handicap Chase.

Viking Flagship, an Irish-bred seven-year-old, heads for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham after outpacing the front-runner, Egypt Mill Prince, from the last.

As far as the Victor Chandler Chase was concerned the point was not so much who won or lost or how, but that the game was played at all. The switch of the valuable Grade 2 event from waterlogged Ascot at the 11th hour was an admirable, if overdue, exercise in public relations and flexibility by the British Horseracing Board.

The presence of the top two-milers trebled the normal Warwick Saturday crowd, but the card was a decent one without the extra attraction.

Moorcroft Boy, with Maguire in the saddle, jumped and galloped to Grand National favouritism and provided Nicholson with a training double with a tidy win in the Warwick National. Ken Manley's rapidly improving nine-year-old led approaching the penultimate obstacle and was not troubled to finish three lengths clear of the top-weight, Chatam.

The gelding has the Eider Chase at Newcastle, one of the few name races Nicholson has not won, on his agenda before Liverpool.

Equally pleased after the race was Martin Pipe. His Chatam, giving the winner 24lb, was having his first outing since refusing to start in last year's void National, and the fourth-placed King's Curate, up with the pace until the home straight, had not run for 22 months. He said: 'I've never been so delighted to finish second and fourth.'

Chatam, one of 11 Pipe-trained horses among the 46 entries for the Gold Cup, has been cut to 25-1 from 33-1 by Hills for the Cheltenham showpiece.

(Photograph omitted)