Racing: Cecil adds to Fallon agony

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The relationship between Henry Cecil and his stable jockey appeared to be under considerable strain last night when, without ever using the two words "Kieren" and "Fallon", the trainer implied that he held the rider responsible for the defeat of Bosra Sham in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown on Saturday.

"The way the race developed, she'd have been better off in her box," Cecil said. "She likes to come from off a good strong pace, but she got boxed in and had a very nasty experience. To me it was very disappointing. She never had a chance.''

Fallon's mount, a particular favourite of her trainer as well as punters who sent her off the 4-7 favourite, was caught flat-footed after the rider went for an illusory gap on the far rail, and then snatched up and allowed her rivals, still full of running thanks to the steady pace, to sprint into a decisive lead.

Immediately afterwards, Cecil refused to comment, but his observations yesterday were about as specific as any that this famously non-committal trainer has ever offered. "I am not going to say who is to blame, it is obvious," he said. "I think the whole thing was appalling and if people do not have the eyes to see it, they should not go racing but go to the theatre or something else instead. They went a crawl and she likes to go a good gallop. She has been beaten a length and a quarter, and if she had dictated it she would have won six lengths.''

Fallon was riding in Germany yesterday but he said after Saturday's race: "It would be typical for people to blame me and I have to accept that, but there was no gallop and there was nothing I could do about it.

``If they'd gone a gallop, you wouldn't have got that result. I didn't expect Benny The Dip to crawl round and I had to challenge when I did. I had two horses in front of me and one on my outside and you can't force your way out.''

Unfortunately for Fallon, however, the man who pays his wages seems to believe there was something he could have done. Since the hot favourite so clearly requires a strong pace, it should not have been a surprise when Willie Ryan - ironically, an employee of Cecil's yard - set out to make the running on Benny The Dip at the most sedate gallop he could manage.

At this point, Fallon still had time to seize the initiative and dictate the pace himself - and this was, surely, a scenario which trainer and jockey had discussed beforehand. Instead he chose to do nothing and then became desperate enough to compound the problem by going for a gap that vanished as soon as Ryan realised what he was attempting to do.

Given Cecil's affection for Bosra Sham, this latter action may have changed his opinion of Fallon's ride from unfortunate to unforgivable. Criticising a rider from the comfort of an armchair is all too easy and, in many cases, thoroughly unfair. When you are Henry Cecil's stable jockey, however, riding an odds-on chance in the Eclipse, you are paid not only to make difficult choices, but also to get it right.

If his employer is convinced that he did not, there may not be a second chance. If anyone took any pleasure in the attention which focused on Bosra Sham on Saturday afternoon, it may well have been Luca Cumani, since it went all but unnoticed that his Zaralaska, banned from racing for 28 days for not trying at York in May, sauntered home at Haydock. Anyone who backed him for the Yorkshire Life Handicap on 13 May, when he was 13lb lower in the weights but could finish only fifth under a very tender ride, is entitled to feel fleeced. It is clear that the penalty imposed by the Knavesmire stewards was nothing of the sort. Zaralaska's routine was not disrupted, and he won at Royal Ascot - again, with conspicuous ease - just 48 hours after the suspension expired.

The punishment should be tailored to fit. An automatic penalty, perhaps 14lb for the horse's next two or three outings, would do far more to deter non-triers.

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