Racing: Fallon ready to travel for title

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The Independent Online
When asked recently why his firm did not bet on the jockeys' championship, the PR man for one leading bookmaker replied that doing so invariably cost them a packet. Hard though it is to sympathise with a bookie, the wild shifts in betting on the 1997 Flat title in recent days imply that his reluctance was borne of commercial reality rather than cowardice.

The problem for a bookmaker in a topsy-turvy two-horse race like the one underway between Frankie Dettori and Kieren Fallon, who are level on 125 winners after the latter rider's double at Brighton yesterday, is that hardly anyone ever bets at odds-on. Instead, punters weigh in at odds like the 11-4 available with the Tote about Fallon yesterday morning, and then sit back and watch as he shrinks to 7-4 in the course of an afternoon.

With Dettori idle for five days next week, it is more than likely that those who took a price yesterday will be able to back the Italian and guarantee themselves a profit within little more than 10 days.

Those who do not cover their bet can be sure that Fallon will spare no effort in the pursuit of his first title. "I can't afford to take time off like Frankie, I'm not as wealthy as him," Fallon said yesterday after winning a maiden and a handicap at Brighton with a combined value of less than pounds 7,500. "The way I look at it, whether it's Brighton or Bath, they are all winners and they all count, sellers and all."

The depth of that commitment may be tested as soon as next Monday, when Hamilton stages the only Flat racing in Britain, but on the day when Dettori begins his suspension, it is a far bet that Fallon will make the trek to one of the more remote tracks in the country.

"It is too early to begin worrying about the championship," Fallon added. "There is still a lot of the season left, and look what happened to Frankie last year when an injury put him out for a long time. Wait until the last two weeks of the season, but it might be exciting." In truth, of course, it already is.

Pat Eddery's chance of defending the title has all but evaporated, but he can at least look forward to the Ayr Gold Cup next month with some optimism after Plaisir D'Amour, a winner for the Irishman at York last week, was installed as 14-1 favourite for the event yesterday.

Owned by Michael Tabor and trained by Neville Callaghan, Plaisir D'Amour is one of 142 entries, a record for the race, a field which is headed by Coastal Bluff, last year's winner, with a burden of 10st 2lb.

Coastal Bluff, who dead-heated with Ya Malak for the Nunthorpe Stakes at York last week, has an alternative engagement, however, in the Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday week. That is also the next destination for another of Tabor's runners, the Stewards' Cup winner, Danetime, who was reported yesterday to have recovered from the slight setback which forced him to miss the Nunthorpe. "He seems perfect now," Callaghan said.

There was disappointment yesterday for Mick Fitzgerald in his attempt to equal the record sequence of winners for a jump jockey of 10 in a row. Since his win on Irie Mon at Market Rasen on 8 August, Fitzgerald had partnered eight consecutive winners - for seven different trainers - but he could finish only ninth on General Glow in the opening race at Worcester, his only ride of the afternoon.


NAP: Newport Knight

(Lingfield 4.30)

NB: Keen Waters

(Lingfield 5.00)