x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Jockey Fallon barred from riding in Derby for acting selfish

The 46-year-old claims 'innocent misunderstanding' in ignoring a deal with NativeKhan's owner Araci and tried to race rival horse Recital at the Epsom.

EPSOM // Jockey Kieren Fallon was sensationally barred from riding 9-2 third favourite Recital in the Epsom Derby after an appeal in the High Court in London to stop him taking part succeeded.

The 46-year-old was originally due to partner 10-1 chance Native Khan for Turkish owner Ibrahim Araci but switched earlier in the week to Recital, trained in Ireland by his former boss Aidan O'Brien.

Araci's solicitor Mehmet Erdogan said outside the hearing that the court had decided Fallon should keep his promise. "Mr Kieren Fallon has brought this upon himself... as the judge put it, cynically and deliberately switching sides the very last minute before the Derby."

Erdogan said Fallon had made two deals with Araci. "One to ride my client's horse in the Derby for the term of one year, starting earlier this year, and secondly — and most importantly — not to ride any rival horse in a race that Native Khan would race."

Irishman Fallon denied at Thursday's initial hearing there had been any breach of contract, arguing there had been an "innocent misunderstanding".

On Friday, a High Court judge sided with Fallon to allow him to ride Recital. Judge Mr Justice MacDuff had concluded that Fallon had appeared to act with "deliberate selfishness" but declined to stop him riding for various reasons, including public interest. Fallon has won the Derby three times.

MacDuff also said on Friday that preventing Fallon from riding in a premier classic race would be a "severe punishment" and although an injunction would cover "one short day", it would involve "a restraint of trade and a prohibition on a major sportsman from carrying on his occupation."

However, on Saturday, less than six hours before the race and in unprecedented circumstances, it was announced that an appeal by Araci had been ruled successful by Lord Justice Jackson and Lord Justice Elias.

After the appeal verdict, Fallon's solicitor Christopher Stewart-Moore said: "He is very disappointed and very sorry not to be riding in the Derby this afternoon.

"He wishes the owner of Native Khan the very best of luck and hopes that (replacement rider) Pat Smullen has a good ride on Recital too."

Native Khan will be ridden by Johnny Murtagh who won Friday's Epsom Oaks on 20-1 outsider Dancing Rain, beating Fallon into second place on 3-1 chance Wonder of Wonders.

Carlton House, owned by Britain's Queen Elizabeth is 9-4 favourite to give the 85-year-old monarch her first Derby win.

Fallon, six-times British champion jockey is no stranger to the headlines.

During his long career he has enjoyed success at top level home and abroad but in 2007 he was one of the defendants in a high-profile race-fixing trial at the Old Bailey.

Though the case collapsed he then served an 18-month ban after failing a drugs test in France. Since his return to action the Irishman has been steadily re-building his career.