It is the determination to go the extra yard, to find a solution to every problem in running, that has made Kieren Fallon a champion, but at times it must feel more like a burden than a gift. In a minor race at Ayr last week, with just £3,000 on offer to the winner, Fallon could not find a gap when his horse was going like a winner, and so he tried to make one. That manoeuvre, which even the locals stewards agreed was "minor", will now keep him out of the Derby at Epsom on Saturday, following the decision by the Jockey Club's Disciplinary Committee yesterday to throw out Fallon's appeal against a three-day ban for irresponsible riding.
The Committee took less than two hours to reach its verdict, and also decided that Fallon should forfeit his £400 deposit, a clear sign that they believed the appeal was based on forlorn hope rather than compelling evidence. Fallon, who was represented at Portman Square by Andrew Chalk, a solicitor, argued that when a slight gap appeared, his mount veered left unexpectedly, causing interference to Tancred Times, ridden by Tyrone Williams. The Committee, though, ruled that this was not borne out by video evidence and that Fallon moved left when it should have been clear to him that interference would result.
It is believed that Chalk then argued that the incident should be treated as a special case on compassionate grounds. Not surprisingly, this was rejected.
Fallon said little as he left Portman Square. When asked how he felt, he said: "How do you think? Why not forget about it?"
John Maxse, of the Jockey Club, was more forthcoming. "There was no new evidence to merit an appeal," he said. "Fallon's team argued that the horse had taken its own course into the gap. The committee took the view that their evidence wasn't borne out by the video, and that it was an offence that merited three days, the minimum for that category of interference."
Fallon's ban begins on Saturday, Derby day, which means that he is free to ride Flight Of Fancy, the favourite, in the Oaks the previous day. Pat Eddery whose last ride on a 2,000 Guineas winner in the Derby, El Gran Senor in 1984, ended in a narrow and controversial defeat is confirmed as the partner of Golan, while Johnny Murtagh will ride his stable companion Dilshaan. Craig Williams has been booked to ride King Carew, a 200-1 chance, for Mick Channon.
The result of Fallon's appeal had been anticipated, and had little effect on the ante-post market. Some punters were betting on the Classic when the latest generation of three-year-olds were still yearlings, but they have now had a look at every possible scrap of form, and each of the runners has now found his level (although Tobougg is 16-1 from 20-1 with Hills following confirmation that Frankie Dettori will take the ride). Barring a sudden mishap for one of the market leaders, there are unlikely to be any major changes in the market until the betting opens at the track, with Golan and Galileo jostling for favouritism and Dilshaan close behind.
Once the on-course punters and layers start to get involved, prices could shift markedly, particularly if there is a feeling among the bookies that they want to "get" one or more of the leading contenders. Which of them will start favourite may be impossible to call until moments before the off.
The main event at Epsom will be over in less than three minutes, but there will still be plenty of other attractions to keep people amused. The funfair will be there as always with Peter Walwyn no doubt taking his traditional ride on the Waltzer while there will also be live performances by Emma Bunton and Atomic Kitten (which is possibly not what the 12th Earl of Derby envisaged when he gave the race its name back in the 1780s, but should at least keep the kids happy).
On the course, one of the main supporting acts will be the Dash Rated Handicap, which offers a £100,000 bonus to the winner if it can break Indigenous's course (and world) record for five furlongs, set in 1960.
The fact that the hand-timed mark of 53.60 seconds has remained the target for so long demonstrates how difficult it will be to surpass, but with fast ground expected, and such trailblazers as Repertory to lead the charge downhill, the bonus's underwriters may, for once, be feeling a little nervous.Reuse content