Racing: Big-race winners and lucrative Coolmore retainer in jeopardy

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The Independent Online

Success for Aussie Rules in the Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown today would be only the first of many twists of the knife for Kieren Fallon if he cannot reverse the suspension of his right to ride in Britain pending his trial.

As retained jockey to the Coolmore partnership of John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, Fallon has access to some of the most precious racing stock in the world. Many of them, including Aussie Rules, are in the care of Aidan O'Brien at Ballydoyle in Co Tipperary.

Only last Sunday Fallon and O'Brien took the Budweiser Irish Derby with Dylan Thomas, adding to the British Classics won this season with Alexandrova and George Washington. These horses will be among those aimed at some of the most prestigious races in the calendar during Fallon's suspension.

Then there is Hurricane Run, the French-trained favourite for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot later this month, not to mention the juvenile stars that routinely emerge from Ballydoyle. It has been calculated that last year Fallon's share of prize-money during the months equivalent to those ahead exceeded £500,000.

But if he misses these horses, they will miss him, too - as will those who pay him to maximise their reputations as future stallions. Coolmore have already given Fallon a public vote of confidence, but his lawyers yesterday advised the Horseracing Regulatory Authority that his contract expires at the end of the present season.

The panel accepted that he would "most probably" lose his retainer if suspended. The talk on the racecourse now will inevitably turn to those who might fill the breach. Johnny Murtagh takes over the mount on Aussie Rules today, but is unlikely to be viewed as a long-term successor.

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