Racing: Maguire steps up for Holly

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The Independent Online
ADRIAN MAGUIRE, whose fortunes have turned skywards ever since he resigned as David Nicholson's stable jockey last week, has been booked to replace Andrew Thornton aboard French Holly in the AIG Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on 24 January. Thornton, who has an infection in his left leg, yesterday conceded that he will not be fit for the race in which French Holly will encounter the Champion Hurdler, Istabraq, for the first time.

"It is very unfortunate [for Thornton] but I am absolutely delighted," Maguire said. "He is a very good horse and anyone would be delighted to ride him. I haven't ridden the horse before but he has won some very good races and beaten some very good horses. I am very impressed with him.

"I don't see the two miles being a problem," Maguire added. "I have seen him win a few times and have been very impressed.

"Istabraq was very impressive when winning the Champion Hurdle last year but some people say that French Holly may be the horse to go and beat him - I'm looking forward to it."