Racing: Monarch's fine send-off for Fallon

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Kieren Fallon was brimming with confidence for the 2002 Flat turf season after cheering punters at Southwell yesterday by coaxing home 7-4 favourite Lucayan Monarch. Headed by Kanz Wood inside the final furlong, Lucayan Monarch was persuaded by Fallon to put his head in front again in the last strides to win by a neck.

The champion jockey, who returns to Japan later this week to continue his contract to ride there this winter, was grateful to get his name on the score sheet, explaining: "The racing is so competitive in Japan that you can't afford to drop your guard. You have to be 110 per cent fit and sharp and if I had taken a week off doing nothing they would have had an edge on me when I got back there. It's good to ride a winner, not just for myself but for the punters; they expect you to have one or two and I am pleased to get the year off to a good start."

Fallon will ride in Japan until 10 February, and he went on: "I will ride on the all-weather before the turf season starts here and I'm looking forward to riding Right Approach [trained by Sir Michael Stoute] again this year. He is a Derby horse.

"It was great to win the championship last year after being out for so long with that shoulder injury and I will be going all out to hold on to it. I have the best agent in the country and he usually gets me the best of rides, particularly in handicaps." Asked if he still had the hunger to pursue the jockeys' title, Fallon responded: "Even more so. I am really looking forward to it."

Lucayan Monarch was banned from running for 40 days after an inquiry following his third-placing at Southwell 11 days previously, but Russell Wilman, the horse's trainer, said: "We have lodged an appeal which will be heard on 10 January, and that is why he was allowed to run today. They inquired into the running and riding of the horse and said we pulled him. That was rubbish and I believe we will be successful with the appeal.

"We train here at Southwell, which caused him [Lucayan Monarch] to hang off the bend and up the straight towards the stables," Wilman added.

Chris Catlin, last season's champion apprentice rider, opened his account for the new year when gaining his first success for Richard Fahey, the Malton trainer, as he brought Pup's Pride with a well-timed run to take the £12,000 Littlewoods Bet Direct Handicap.

Catlin put up 2lb overweight and Fahey commented: "I was not happy about that, but the horse has won and I am over the moon. This horse is what you could call a likeable rogue, but he has plenty of ability and can lead anything at home – I have a share in him but he is for sale."

The outlook for the televised meeting at Sandown on Saturday was rated as "pretty slim" yesterday as the icy weather continued to take its toll on racing. Sandown's valuable card is due to feature the Tolworth Hurdle and the Mildmay Cazalet Memorial Chase.

But Andrew Cooper, the clerk of the course, said: "It is very much unraceable at the moment. We had minus-six last night on top of minus-four the night before, which compounded the situation. The frost is well and truly in the ground."

Prospects for this week are: Today: Ayr and Folkestone – abandoned; Southwell (AW) – no problems reported.

Tomorrow: Lingfield (AW) – no problems; Sedgefield – frozen, plus snow; Taunton – frost in the ground, but milder weather expected.

Friday: Hexham – unraceable and an inspection likely; Ludlow – frozen, inspection likely; Southwell (AW) – no problems.

Saturday: Musselburgh – frozen but milder weather expected; Haydock – frozen "rock solid" but thaw forecast; Lingfield – no problems; Sandown – unraceable and rise in temperature needed, inspection likely on Friday; Uttoxeter: snow and some frost but milder weather expected; Wolverhampton (AW) – no problems.

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