Racing: Investigation of Fallon case is priority for Jockey Club

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The Independent Online

The controversy over Kieren Fallon's riding of Ballinger Ridge at Lingfield on Tuesday is now the Jockey Club's "No 1 priority", following newspaper allegations yesterday.

In a four-page article in the News Of The World, in which the incident is described as "the sports scandal of the decade", the newspaper alleged that the champion jockey told their undercover reporters before the Lingfield race that Rye, who started as the odds-on favourite, would beat his mount Ballinger Ridge, who was the 15-8 second favourite.

Fallon, after kicking well clear on Ballinger Ridge, eased down and was caught and beaten a short-head by Rye.

Fallon was found to be in breach of racing's rules in that he failed to ride out to the line for first place, an offence which carries a maximum 21-day ban, but the matter was referred to the Jockey Club for investigation because unusual betting patterns were reported before the event by the betting exchange firm Betfair.

John Maxse, the Jockey Club's public relations director, said yesterday: "One of the key aims of our investigation is to establish if there was any correlation between the suspicious betting patterns and Fallon's failure to obtain the best placing.

"The News Of The World have agreed to provide the Jockey Club with the dossier of their investigation into Kieren Fallon and once we have studied it, we will be interviewing the jockey about its contents.

"Paul Scotney, our director of security, is heading the investigation and the matter is at present our No 1 priority.

"The article is potentially very damaging to Kieren Fallon as an individual and, as a result of his status as champion jockey, there are implications for racing as a whole," he said.

"But I think it is important to emphasise the article does not actually contain evidence, as I read it, of race-fixing. There is nothing in the article which overtakes our current investigation: the Lingfield race and betting patterns in that race."