Adrian Maguire bridges ten-year gap

Adrian Maguire, who was leading rider at the John Smith's Grand National meeting in 1994, walked through the Aintree gates for the first time in 10 years today and marvelled at the transformation of the racecourse. Maguire, who now trains an 18-strong team in Co Cork, is here to saddle 66/1 outsider Golden Kite in the world's most famous chase, the John Smith's Grand National, and he was delighted to see the sun shining as his nine-year-old is a top-of-the-ground specialist.

He said: "The faster the ground the better and it seems to be drying out quickly, so, hopefully, Golden Kite will do us proud. I would have rather kept him back for the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday, but his owner, Dr Anthony Calnan, is a true gentleman and a real sportsman, and he was keen to come to Aintree, so here we are.

"Golden Kite won the Munster National at Limerick, and, though the fences here are much more formidable, he is an economical jumper who will gallop all day, so we have fingers and toes firmly crossed."

Maguire has a fistful of happy memories of Aintree, and, turning the clock back to his riding days, he added: "I won the Melling Chase (1995) on Viking Flagship, and, though the National eluded me, I got round four times and will never forget the thrill I had when finishing third on Moorcroft Boy in 1994, while I also had a fantastic ride on Addington Boy, who was fourth (1999) and fifth (2000) in the race.

"The last time I was here was in 2001 when I rode Paddy's Return. He got rid of me at the first ditch, the third, and then promptly caused havoc when running loose and wiped half the field out when veering right across the course at the Canal Turn.

"I must admit I could barely recognise the place when I arrived - the management team have done a terrific job upgrading the facilities and the new weighing room is fantastic.

"I am thoroughly enjoying the training, though the Irish economy is in such a sorry state that things are pretty tough. I have 45 boxes, but our numbers have dwindled to 18 in the last year or so. However, I have a great bunch of owners and honestly feel that all those 18 horses are capable of winning a race, so, while I would be happy to get a few more orders, there are plenty of guys back home who are worse off than me."

Maguire, who will celebrate his 40th birthday at the end of the month, won a Cheltenham Gold Cup on Cool Ground, a King George VI Chase on Barton Bank and had a marvellous partnership with Viking Flagship.

He was one of the best jump jockeys never to be champion, failing by just three to catch Richard Dunwoody in the 1993/1994.

He added:"Training is so different to riding and a lot tougher, but we have had some great days. I saddled Denman to win a point-to-point at Liscarroll in 2005 and then sold him to Paul Barber, and I was delighted when he won the Gold Cup in 2008.

"We also had Finian's Rainbow in the early part of his career before he joined Nicky Henderson, and it would nice to find a few more like him. Maybe, if Golden Kite runs well we might get a few phone calls from prospective owners, but as long as the horse comes back in one piece I'll be happy, and I am sure that he will give Shane Hassett a memorable first National ride."