Racing: Champion rides into history

While Fallon goes Flat out to landmark, One Man jumps to it on his return
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The Independent Online
With his first jockeys' championship already secure, Kieren Fallon reached another select milestone yesterday. After an 88-1 treble at Newmarket during the afternoon, victory on board the previously undistinguished Filial at Wolverhampton last night brought his score for the year to 200 winners, a mark reached by only seven other men since records began in 1846.

Fred Archer, eight times, and Tommy Loates achieved the double century during the Victorian era, and Sir Gordon Richards did it on a dozen occasions, all in the days before evening meetings, all-weather tracks and swift airborne transport. More recent luminaries have been Frankie Dettori (twice), Pat Eddery, Michael Roberts and Jason Weaver.

Fallon, 32, leaves for his Breeders' Cup duties in California on Tuesday, and can now head for the sunshine without the thought of having to return home to complete his task on the winter tracks hanging over him.

There was a 20-minute wait before the first of yesterday's Newmarket trio, Pontoon, was confirmed. The Henry Cecil-trained filly was involved in a four-way photo at the end of the Balaton Lodge Maiden Stakes, a snap which showed that Khalid Abdullah's big black daughter of Zafonic had prevailed by the width one of the whiskers on her pretty nose.

As if to emphasise her supremacy, she barged across her immediate victim, Lovers Knot, after passing the post, bringing her rival to her knees and giving Gary Carter a nasty enough fall for him to miss later rides, feeling groggy. The stewards judged the incident accidental and took no action against Fallon.

The Irishman steered a faultless course, and demonstrated some of the skills that have brought him the title, on Samara in the Ben Marshall Stakes. He set off in front on the bonny white-faced chestnut, who had run a blinder on her previous outing when fifth in Group Two company in France, and read the pace to perfection, quickening two out to hold Balalaika's late thrust by a cosy three-quarters of a length. The winning trainer, John Dunlop, noted the expertise, saying: "That was a very nice ride indeed. We wondered if we would get away with it, because she was a bit edgy beforehand and had started to go in her coat, but we did. Just."

An hour later Fallon, to the delight of punters, landed Consort, backed from 12-1 in the morning to 15-2, home in front by a neck in the competitive Ladbroke Autumn Handicap and gave the trainer Amanda Perrett her biggest Flat success.

In between, Mark Johnston kept up his notable record in the Zetland Stakes, a 10-furlong contest for two-year-olds that more often than not spotlights a high-class stayer, winning with the least fancied of his three contenders. Trigger Happy, a 20-1 shot, was the third winner in five runnings for the Middleham trainer, following Double Trigger and Double Eclipse for the same owner, Ron Huggins. Two recent subsequent St Leger heroes, Bob's Return in 1992 and Silver Patriarch last year, have also taken the race.

On a perfect sunlit autumn day Newmarket had an end-of-term feel. and, to paraphrase Will Ogilvie's poem, Sadler's sons and Woodman's daughters are safely tucked away in winter quarters. But elsewhere the jump season kicked into life and, with the exception of the Flat's final apologetic bow at Doncaster next weekend, the limber lean-of-head ones will hold the stage for the next five months.

Two of them met for the eighth time at Wetherby, and by the end of the Charlie Hall Chase nine-year-old One Man had increased his supremacy over Barton Bank, 11, with the score 5-3 in his favour. It was, however, a victory that hinted that the grey horse's reign as king of the three-milers may be coming to an end.

Barton Bank shared the lead with Hermes Harvest for most of the race while One Man lobbed comfortably round behind the pair until Richard Dunwoody took close order in the straight. He sailed past his old foe in the air with a mighty leap at the final ditch, but though the writing was on the wall from that point it was not in such bold uppercase letters as in the past.

Black birch flew as Barton Bank bellied the last three fences, but he refused to crack and was level again at the last. Though One Man, who broke blood vessels at Aintree in April, pulled clear on the run-in, he finished, not for the first time, as though with one misfiring cylinder.

He is still on course for a third King George VI Chase, but before that his optimum distance may come under review in the two and a half-mile Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon. And the two-mile Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham is not yet erased from the campaign notebook of his trainer, Gordon Richards.

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