Fallon's 'extraordinary ride' cost mount 'certain victory'

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A leading Australian racing steward yesterday told the court that he could not understand why the six-times champion jockey Kieren Fallon lost a race which he had been winning.

Ray Murrihy said he had viewed film of the controversial race which Ballinger Ridge lost after having a long lead.

Murrihy said there was no reason why Fallon, who had a "commanding lead" with only a furlong to go, had slowed down and "given an easy passage" to the horse which overtook him.

Murrihy added: "I am in no doubt he should have won. It was a quite extraordinary ride." The horse slowed "dramatically" and lost momentum after Fallon appeared to drop his hands.

"I do not think I have seen in my experience a horse ease down in that part of the race and it undoubtedly cost him the win," he added.

Murrihy, the Chief Steward of New South Wales, has been called as a prosecution witness in the £2m racing-fixing trial.

Fallon, the court has already heard, said he was giving Ballinger Ridge a "breather" not realising how close the other horses were during the Lingfield race in March 2004. But the prosecution alleges that he allowed the horse to slow down because he was involved in the plot with two other jockeys to let horses lose so a betting syndicate could win money.

With 37 years' experience in the sport, Murrihy has been asked to give an independent opinion on races said to be involved in a betting scam. Murrihy said he "had concerns" about 13 out of 27 races he had been asked to view by City of London Police. He said he would have called a stewards' inquiry in each case and asked the jockey and trainer for an explanation.

Murrihy said he would not have called a stewards' inquiry into some of Fallon's other races. These included wins on Russian Rhythm at Newbury in May 2004 and on the Queen's horse Daring Aim at Newmarket in July 2004.

He said Legal Set, ridden by Darren Williams at Lingfield in December 2002, had come third after it failed to take advantage of a gap in the field. "He elected to stay behind the wall of horses," Murrihy said.

CD Europe, ridden by Fergal Lynch at Southwell in February 2003, lost after a "stark ride devoid of vigour", Murrihy added. "At no point do I see Fergal Lynch ask this horse to extend itself to its fullest."

Jockeys Kieren Fallon, 42, formerly of Newmarket, Cambridgeshire, but now of Tipperary, Ireland, Fergal Lynch, 29, of Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire, and Darren Williams, 29, of Leyburn, North Yorkshire, deny the conspiracy between December 2002 and August 2004.

Shaun Lynch, 38, of Belfast, Miles Rodgers, 38, of Silkstone, South Yorkshire, and Philip Sherkle, 42, of Tamworth, Staffordshire, also plead not guilty. The races resulted in losses except for six wins. Rodgers also denies concealing the proceeds of crime.

The trial continues today.