Six-times champion jockey Kieren Fallon, whose career could have been destroyed by a race-fixing trial and a drugs ban, made his comeback today after nearly two years but could only manage a second and a fourth in his first two rides at Lingfield Park.
In the first race, he broke fast from the stalls on 13-8 joint favourite Rare Malt but could not resist the challenge of 20-1 outsider Mr Mahoganeigh who won by two and a quarter lengths under leading woman jockey Hayley Turner.
An hour later the ex-champion partnered 2-1 shot Roodee King but never got in a blow behind 7-1 chance Chantilly Jewel.
"I'll kill that Hayley," Fallon joked as he dismounted after the first race on one of the most eagerly awaited comebacks in racing.
Fallon, pursued by a phalanx of paparazzi and a large press contingent at the course near London, said of his lifelong passion for racing: "I enjoy it. It is the only thing I know, it is the only thing I want to do."
The 44-year-old was applauded by racegoers who shouted welcome back in the autumn sunshine.
Fallon said: "It all helps build your confidence back up again. When I was walking out I was a little bit nervous but when I got on the horse it totally changed."
The ambition still burns, telling reporters he wanted "to ride as many winners as I can and have a crack at the championship in 2010."
They were the first rides in Britain for more than three years for the Irishman, who had been involved in a race-fixing trial at London's Old Bailey court in 2007.
He was cleared but then was given an 18-month worldwide ban by racing authorities for testing positive for a prohibited substance while riding in France in 2007.
The last time he rode in public, Fallon gave Dylan Thomas an inspired ride in October 2007 to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
The next day he rode in a taxi to court for the race-fixing trial that could have torpedoed his chequered career.
Fallon, winner of 15 classics including three Epsom Derbies, has kept fit by riding out for a string of trainers during his enforced exile from the sport that is his life.
In the latest chapter of a career that reads like the plot for a Dick Francis racing thriller, he set himself a tough weekend pace - with seven rides on his first day back, a return to Group One competition at Haydock on Saturday and then to Germany on Sunday.