Top jockey admitted throwing race, says television commentator

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Champion jockey Kieran Fallon was accused yesterday in the High Court of admitting throwing a race. It was alleged that Mr Fallon had told a television racing presenter that he had "pulled" the horse on instructions from its trainer. The claim was made during Mr Fallon's libel case against the Sporting Life racing paper.

Channel 4's Derek Thompson said, under subpoena by the Sporting Life, that Mr Fallon had confessed to not riding Top Cees to win in the Swaffham handicap, when the two had discussed the race at The Old Plough pub near Newmarket.

He told Mr Justice Morland and the jury: "I don't want to repeat this, which is why I've tried to stop it coming to open court because it was said to me in confidence. I was asking: `What happened with Top Cees this afternoon as I thought he would win' and Kieran's words were `Yes, I thought the horse would win as well but when I got into the paddock Jack told me to stop it'."

But Mr Fallon was recalled to the witness box yesterday to denounce the claim as "a lie".

"Something like that to be said ... it would be terrible for any jockey to even think about something like that, to talk about stopping the horse, let alone doing it, would be to jeopardise your career. Mr Thompson is inventing it - he's a liar." He said neither the horse's trainer, Lynda Ramsden, nor her husband, Jack, had ever asked him to stop a horse.

Cross-examined by Richard Hartley QC, for the Sporting Life, Mr Fallon denied that his orders that day had been not to win. Mr Hartley said: "But if the governor tells you not to win, I suggest that you, as the jockey on that occasion, would follow orders." Mr Fallon countered: "You think I would risk my licence in order to stop a horse?"

The Ramsdens and Mr Fallon are suing over a "savage verbal onslaught", in an unsigned editorial in May 1995, the day after Top Cees won the Chester Cup. It said they conspired to deceive the public by deliberately not trying to win the Swaffham. Publishers MGN Ltd, part owners of The Independent, deny libel. They say the article is justified and fair comment on a "scandal" that was a matter of public interest.

The hearing was adjourned until Monday.

Further reports, Sport