Racing: Alexandrova and Curragh crowd lift Fallon
Monday 17 July 2006
High on the grandstand, the national tricolour hung drowsily in the heat. Just below was a giant clock, and below that an inscription that might have been chosen for the defiant mob who hailed their besieged champion here yesterday. "Time discloses all," it says.
There may or may not be those among the 11 people facing an initial court hearing in London today who feel a little jittery over the word "time". All, certainly, deny charges brought by police investigating allegations of race-fixing. But none, surely, have been offered greater solidarity than Kieren Fallon, whose insistence that time is all that divides him from proof of his innocence was boisterously endorsed by many who participated in this, the latest chapter in a spiralling melodrama.
It was unequivocal in the crowd who roared him back into the winner's enclosure after the big race, and perhaps even perceptible in the filly beneath him, who had confirmed Fallon's gifts so rare that few beyond the sport might readily comprehend them.
Fallon was so certain of Alexandrova's superiority to her five rivals for the Darley Irish Oaks that he told Aidan O'Brien that he intended to give them all a start - even if a slow pace generated a sprint finish. "Kieren said that if they were going to walk, he would stand," the trainer disclosed afterwards. "I presume if they stood, he would have gone backwards."
Such a plot might seem a bit thick to any stranger to the Turf, but Fallon was handsomely vindicated in the most extravagant of waiting rides. True, the rank outsider obliged him by setting a reckless gallop, but Alexandrova still had an awful lot of ground to make up when Scottish Stage took over turning into the finishing straight. But Alexandrova did so in a pure strut, relishing conditions much firmer than at Epsom, where she was so impressive last month. She mangled her field, darting into a convenient gap on the rail and bounding four lengths clear.
This is a filly of such rare verve that she could legitimately take on the colts now, but O'Brien indicated she would tackle the Yorkshire Oaks next. Dylan Thomas, who won the Budweiser Irish Derby in similar style a fortnight previously, would not go for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes either - unless for some reason Hurricane Run, in the same ownership, happened to stay in France.
It was the very next day after his success on Dylan Thomas that Fallon was charged with conspiracy to defraud. Reflecting on the singular warmth of his reception, then and now, he emphasised the comfort he has found from his compatriots. "I think Derby day here was the best reception I have experienced anywhere in the world," he said. "The Arc, that's hard to beat, but I don't think I have ever had a better feeling. And to hear them again today, it does help your confidence.
"You need all the help you can get when things go against you. Of course, it's riding horses like this that gives you confidence. I felt she was much better than these and decided to ride her accordingly."
Fallon's licence to ride in Britain has been suspended by the Horseracing Regulatory Authority pending his trial, even though that period may extend until late next year. The Turf Club in Ireland considers that offensive to the principle that he remains innocent unless and until proven guilty, and Fallon's lawyers are hoping to persuade the High Court in Britain to share that view. In the mean time, however, Fallon must appear before magistrates today in what is expected to be a brief, procedural hearing.
Before riding Alexandrova, he insisted that such cares would not inhibit him wherever he is permitted to ride. After all, he was first arrested way back in September 2004. "As soon as I am in the stalls, I switch off," he said. "I'm used to it. I know it's just a case of how long it takes. Whether it's sooner or later, I don't know, but I do know it's only a matter of time. Because I know I have done nothing wrong. A lot of people have been charged and been innocent before."
O'Brien did not neglect the contribution of Alexandrova. "I've never seen a filly that can go 0-60 as quick," he said. "It doesn't matter how fast or slow they go, she has such a rapid turn of speed. A very brilliant filly."
But he also praised "an unbelievably cool ride" before reiterating his faith in Fallon, who wore a delighted smile as he slowly negotiated a sweaty tide of back-slapping, cheering humanity on his way back to the weighing room. "That's brilliant for Kieren," O'Brien said. "To keep his belief, to keep him focused. Everyone's behind him, and hopefully this will all pass over, as one of those things you have to get through in life."
Nap: Handsome Cross (Ayr 4.10)
NB: Corrib (Wolverhampton 8.40)
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