Horseracing: Injury forces a sudden end to Eddery's season

Just five days after riding the 4,000th winner of his career in the St Leger, the champion jockey, Pat Eddery, has had to give up riding for the rest of the season because of a back injury. His absence raises the intriguing prospect of whether Kieren Fallon will be reinstated on board the champion filly Bosra Sham, writes John Cobb
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The Independent Online
Anyone who witnessed Pat Eddery pushing and cajoling Silver Patriarch to victory in last Saturday's St Leger would scarcely believe that the jockey was in pain and had been for most of a season in which he has ridden 116 winners. Anyone who saw the determination in that ride will know, though, that Eddery, despite his 45 years, will be back in the saddle next year.

Eddery is out for the rest of this season, though, and must thus relinquish his champion jockey's title to Kieren Fallon or Frankie Dettori without a fight. In truth, barring accidents to both that pair, Eddery was not going to make up the 40 winners that separated him from Fallon on the leader board.

Eddery's back problem dates back to a ride at Nottingham in April. He will undergo an operation in the winter but intends to be fit for the opening turf meeting of 1998 in March.

"I saw the doctor this morning and he said I have got to have an operation," Eddery said yesterday. "I damaged a disc and the problem has been there for a long time. It's not painful when I ride but there are some good days and some bad days.

"The good thing is that it has come after the Leger - it would have been a big blow to miss that. I'll be back next season."

Eddery's spell on the sidelines will prevent him from teaming up again with Bosra Sham in next month's Champion Stakes at Newmarket. Eddery won the Group One contest on the filly last year and was reinstated as her rider after the sacking of Kieren Fallon following a controversial defeat in the Eclipse Stakes in July.

Tim Bulwer-Long, racing manager to Bosra Sham's owner, Wafic Said, was at Newbury yesterday, and was one of many startled by Eddery's decision. "I have only just heard and I am devastated about Pat's injury," he said.

Fallon has answered his critics by opening up a lead in the race for the jockeys' title, and when asked if the Irishman would renew his association with Bosra Sham, Bulwer-Long said: "It's much too early to talk about the Wafic Said horses. I will have more to say on Saturday when I have spoken to him."

In Eddery's absence Fallon and Dettori rode a winner apiece at Newbury, but the Italian suffered a setback when Swain, who won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last time for John Reid, could finish only third to Posidonas and Arabian Story on unsuitably fast ground in the inaugural running of a trial for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at the course.

Dettori was far from despondent about Swain, who lost by two short-heads. "He just got a bit tired in the last furlong," Dettori said, "but that was a good trial for the Arc."

The bookmakers were less impressed and Ladbrokes have eased Swain to 10-1, from 6-1, for Longchamp. The winner is a best-priced 33-1, with William Hill, for the Arc.

The Queen's Arabian Story may now go for the Melbourne Cup, according to his trainer, Lord Huntingdon, but Clerkenwell who has been well backed for the Australian race, finished last of yesterday's five runners.