Racing: Maguire title hunt hit by six-day ban: Jockey Club overturns local leniency and focuses blame on the Warwick stewards. Richard Edmondson reports

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The Independent Online
THE BALANCE of culpability at Warwick two weeks ago was unclear when Adrian Maguire first raised his whip nearly 30 times while riding Ramstar only to be cleared of any misdemeanour by a panel of local stewards. The Jockey Club's Disciplinary Committee yesterday overturned that official leniency and banned the Irishman for six days, and will now exhibit where it believes the burden of blame lies by dealing with the men of Warwick.

After yesterday, Richard Evans, Richard Russell and Tom Coombs, the chairman of the three-man board, cannot avoid censure and it may be that one or more will fall on their sword before Anthony Mildmay- White and his committee call. The Jockey Club has the power to remove all three from their positions, though the pervading view yesterday was that it would stop short of that and merely remove Coombs, an ex- major, from the chair.

'Anthony and his committee will go through everything about that particular case on that particular afternoon with the stewards and the stewards' secretaries,' David Pipe, the Jockey Club spokesman, said yesterday. 'Something went wrong that day so they want to go through it all and find out what happened. If there are lessons to be learned from it, they want to learn them.'

Certainly, the events of yesterday did little to lessen the belief that the current review of disciplinary procedures will lead to radical (for the Jockey Club) announcements being made next month. In the melting pot at the moment are moves to allow the professional stipendiary stewards a vote, as well as educational thoughts, in inquiries debated by the unpaid panel, while the qualifications to become a steward in the first place may also be made more searching.

If stewards need to improve, they could do worse than study Maguire, whose publicity skills have grown to a level surprising in a 22-year-old. The leader in the jockeys' championship (by 24 winners after his nearest rival, Richard Dunwoody, won on Gales Cavalier at Huntingdon yesterday) went into a four-day ban yesterday for careless riding at Folkestone last week, and can ride on Monday before embarking on the latest suspension.

But even though he must have been frustrated, Maguire did not criticise yesterday's judgement, preferring to aim his barbs at the men with notepads, television cameras and furry sausages in front of him.

'The last two weeks have been hard and I've taken more of a blow from the press than I have from the result here today,' he said. 'It was upsetting because the press built me up to be a superstar and the next day I was the bad boy of racing. I didn't ask to be built up to be a superstar.'

The jockey revealed he would be working with David Nicholson, the trainer, to improve his whip technique, and vowed to return with more finesse about his style. 'I'm not saying the Ramstar ride was wrong, but next time it will be more polished and the whip will be used in the correct way,' he said. 'I'm going to go away and improve my riding.'

Maguire will surely find Dunwoody closer to him when he makes that return and he has now eased to 4-7 with Ladbrokes to claim his first championship while his rival is on 5-4. Maguire knows this absence will disturb his prospects. 'This does affect my chances this season,' he said. 'But I'm 22 and I'm not going to start worrying about becoming champion jockey just yet.'

(Photograph omitted)