Kieren Fallon has given best to inevitability and will miss the lucrative Breeders' Cup meeting at Churchill Downs in Kentucky on 4 November. His legal team have announced that the beleaguered Irishman, banned in Britain since being charged with conspiracy to defraud in July after a long-running police investigation, has decided, in fairness to the Ballydoyle-Coolmore operation which employs him, not to proceed with his application to ride in the United States.
Fallon, who denies the charges brought against him, was last month ruled out of the ride on the Aidan O'Brien-trained Ace in the Arlington Million in Chicago by the Illinois racing authorities, and had been contesting that decision. His about-turn has relieved the Kentucky jurisdiction (different states can apply different rules) of having to meet to make a judgment about the situation before their $20m (£10.6m) showpiece meeting. In a statement, Fallon's solicitor Christopher Stewart-Moore said: "There is a great deal of uncertainty around obtaining a licence in time for the Breeders' Cup. Kieren feels this situation is untenable and unfair to Aidan O'Brien, who needs certainty in his arrangements for the Breeders' Cup. He has regretfully made his decision known to the trainer and owners involved."
The jockey is allowed to ride in Ireland, where he is licensed, as well as France and elsewhere, with Britain's Horseracing Regulatory Authority not having asked other jurisdictions to reciprocate the ban. Neither of his Breeders' Cup winners, Islington and Ouija Board, have been in Coolmore colours but Turf candidate Hurricane Run is just one plum mount he will miss this time.
The weather will dictate whether last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner will appear at Leopardstown or Longchamp this weekend; statistics say that this year's will almost certainly be on view in Paris. One of the most remarkable and reliable pointers in recent years has been the Prix Niel, one of the three traditional trials over the Arc course and distance at Longchamp on Sunday. The Group 2 contest, for three-year-olds, has supplied the winner of the big one for nine of the last 12 years, with seven completing the double. The octet appear to fall into two distinct groups. Most have been established stars out for a paid pipe-opener at long odds-on, whether victorious or not; winners Helissio, Peintre Celebre (second), Montjeu, Sinndar, Dalakhani, Bago (third) and Hurricane Run 12 months ago fall into that category. The other two, Carnegie and Sagamix, were emerging talents.
The other factor they had in common is that they were housed in the Chantilly fastness of André Fabre. The Arc master will be going for his seventh triumph in the Bois de Boulogne next month. Under his care are the first two favourites, Hurricane Run and Shirocco. But there is a third contender at 14, Avenue de Bourbon. Rail Link is a colt of a darker hue, figuratively at least, than his stablemates, but he has been the one for money lately and holds fourth place in the ante-post market.
Carnegie and Sagamix were untested at the top level before the Arc, but Rail Link at least has a Group 1 win to his credit. The Khalid Abdullah colourbearer benefited from a softly-softly approach to his career to take the Grand Prix de Paris in July on only his fifth start in an exceptional time.
Rail Link, a home-bred son of rising young stallion Dansili, did not race at two. "He's a well-grown, scopey horse who was never going to be an early sort," said Abdullah's racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe yesterday. "But he's improved all the way. The plan was always to give him a break and we're pleased with his progress since his last race. He's never done any serious work with either Shirocco or Hurricane Run - they're older horses - but if he passes his test on Sunday, then we'll see about taking them on in the Arc."
One who will definitely not be going to Paris next month is Derby fourth Hala Bek, who will not run again this year. Trainer Michael Jarvis yesterday conceded defeat in his efforts to get the colt back to the track after setbacks.
In the same Ahmed Al Maktoum colours, Jarvis produced a promising prospect at Leicester yesterday in two-year-old Dijeerr, who took a maiden in eye-catching style. At the same meeting, the Dandy Nicholls-trained Tax Free shattered the five-furlong course record.
In a gamekeeper-turned-poacher move, the former British Horseracing Board chairman Greg Nichols has joined the leading betting exchange Betfair as managing director.
NB: Della Salute