Racing: Final failure for Fallon and Cecil

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IT WAS a sorry end to a sorry tale. Endorsement, the last runner to represent the partnership of Henry Cecil and Kieren Fallon, dribbled home sixth in the Prix de Pomone at Deauville yesterday. The fireworks around the trainer and jockey were limited instead to the ongoing lurid details of their private lives alleged once again yesterday in a Sunday tabloid.

While the biggest door has banged shut for Fallon he has at least found the next best working accommodation. And his bags will not have to move. Privately, the Irishman has told weighing-room colleagues that he has accepted an offer to ride for Michael Stoute's stable (after also considering overtures from Maktoum Al Maktoum). In public, though, he has yet to commit himself. "There are no decisions yet but discussions are going on," he said in France yesterday.

Fallon rode increasingly for Stoute on an informal basis around three years ago, most notably when partnering Dazzle to success in the Cherry Hinton Stakes. That was just before the approach from Cecil, and there were suggestions at the time that Warren Place had secured their man before he committed to the biggest domestic rivals.

"There was speculation that I would get the Stoute job before I actually signed up to work for Henry three years ago," Fallon confirmed. "Sir Michael is a trainer I've always liked and admired. He likes his horses to be ridden the way I like to ride them. In other words, I can take my time.

"If you had asked me five or six years ago what job I wanted above all, it would have been to ride for Sir Michael Stoute."

There is a situation vacant at Freemason Lodge as Gary Stevens, who has been riding for the yard, confirmed yesterday that he is to return to his native America to ride for Prince Ahmed Salman's Thoroughbred Corporation.

Stevens arrived in this country just before the Derby, at which time he pledged the remainder of his career to British racing. Two months on he has announced his departure. The American has impressed and infuriated race-watchers in just about equal measures since his arrival, but is not decamping because of any criticism. He is going because the Corporation's offer is so good.

"It was only for someone like Prince Ahmed that I would consider leaving England so soon," he said yesterday. "I've enjoyed my stay and am very grateful to Sir Michael Stoute for giving me the opportunity.

"Prince Ahmed has set up a highly successful organisation. He is a knowledgeable horseman and one of the emerging major players in world racing. It will be nice if I can win the Juddmonte International for him on Royal Anthem."

A twist is provided by the fact that Royal Anthem is a horse who has been ridden by Fallon, along with another celebrated animal owned by the Arab team, the Derby winner, Oath.

Prince Ahmed, who pays the bills for around 100 horses in training in California alone, said: "It is very exciting news that Gary has agreed to join us. He and I have been very good friends for a long time. I am sure the experience he has gained from riding in Britain through the summer will add an extra ingredient to his overall ability.

"The intention is for a long association and it would be nice to think that Gary, with all his qualities, could eventually become assistant to Richard Mulhall with the Thoroughbred Corporation."

There are portents of a liaison surely to be confirmed officially in the next few days this afternoon when Fallon rides Stoute's Water Echo at Ripon. The champion jockey will at least not have to look out for his old adversary Stuart Webster. The 42-year-old who announced his retirement yesterday is remembered for riding the sprinters Blyton Lad and Glencroft. But it is his partnership with Sailormaite one September day in 1994 that makes Webster most notable. After winning a race at Beverley, the jockey was dragged from his horse by Fallon and an altercation in the weighing- room ensued. As a result, the Irishman was banned for six months.

Webster may be gone but Fallon will be back in Britain today among the jockeys who hold him dear and the punters who have come to admire his achievements. He may also answer to the journalists he referred to as "a bunch of parasites" last week. Fallon is, of course, a journalist of sorts himself. He has a column, entirely ghosted, in a national tabloid, for which he receives about pounds 1,000 a week. It is for others to judge who is the parasite in this arrangement.

On his first day back as a freelance Fallon rides the John Hills-trained Time Mill against Cecil's Galette in a maiden. The master of Warren Place cannot be feeling so masterful these days after the last week's events and the further sexual revelations yesterday morning.

In recent years he has lost both a leading owner, Sheikh Mohammed, and a leading jockey in Fallon. Both departures seem to have stemmed largely from the influence of his second wife, Natalie, who has been receiving protracted treatment for stress at a clinic. "That woman is ruining his life," said one who knows the couple yesterday. "And Henry just does not need all this.

"There's enough pressure in just training 240 horses, never mind the rest. Just look at the faces of those who have to train 40-50 horses. But things won't change much. He is in love with her and you know what they say about love being blind."