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Donald McCain: Back in the swing after a quiet week

Jason Maguire will be maintaining his association with Ballabriggs in next weekend's Grand National

"The jockey bookings have now been finalised – Jason will ride Ballabriggs, Henry Brooke will be on board Across The Bay and Weird Al will be ridden by Timmy Murphy again....."

Donald has a busy weekend ahead and then all thoughts turn to Aintree.

We've got a busy weekend ahead with Haydock staging a valuable card and it will be nice to get back into the swing of things after a quiet spell. 

We backed off a bit after Cheltenham and then with the weather as it's been this week, it is a relief to get going again, especially with Aintree around the corner. You can cope with a bit of snow in the middle of winter but shovelling it off the gallops in the week before Easter is a bit of a shock!

The Aintree team is taking shape nicely and the three Grand National runners are all in good order at home. The jockey bookings have now been finalised - Jason will ride Ballabriggs, Henry Brooke will be on board Across The Bay and Weird Al will be ridden by Timmy Murphy again.

The weather forecast actually looks quite promising and some of the horses who want better ground might actually get it. Overturn, in particular, would appreciate some decent ground ahead of his run in the 2m novice chase and hopefully he can put Cheltenham behind him.

One horse who won't be lining up for us at Aintree is Son Of Flicka. Unfortunately he, along with the other horses in that ownership, has left the stable in the last week to be trained elsewhere. 

We'd had him here since a 3yo and he's been a cracking little horse for the yard - his win in the Coral Cup was an obvious highlight. These things happen and life goes on but it's never ideal when you lose the good ones.

Jason Maguire's ban (for using his whip when clearly winning) that he picked up at Southwell on Thursday has been a talking point and I suppose the only blessing in the timing is that he doesn't miss Aintree or Ayr as a result of it.

It's a bit of a grey area as he didn't hit the horse more than the rules allow and although it may not have looked that good, he did make the point that you can't always hear them coming on that surface and didn't want to take any chances.

Jason's had to make a real effort to adjust to the whip guidelines and has succeeded - it's just particularly galling when we've had a couple of high-profile horses that have been beaten by riders that have broken the rules.

He's been fairly philosophical about the whole situation but I am not convinced the offence warrants a four-day suspension.

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29 March 2013

Donald McCain

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