Fallon completes arc on Youmzain
Jockey set to join forces with Longchamp runner-up on return from riding ban
Tuesday 01 September 2009
For all its unpredictable twists, the Kieren Fallon story has never lost coherence. It is characteristic, for instance, that one of the first horses eligible to sew together the broken threads of his career should be Youmzain.
The last time the six-times champion was seen plying his trade, on 7 October 2007, he rode Dylan Thomas to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe – beating Youmzain in a photo. It was the sort of indomitable performance that might, had things turned out differently, have offered the consolation of something to remember him by. As it was, the "race-fixing" trial that began at the Old Bailey the very next day would collapse after two months; only for his return to be postponed by an 18-month ban for a second positive drugs test in consecutive summers.
The suspension ends on Friday, and while his scheduled appearance will draw ogling crowds and media to an otherwise unremarkable evening at Kempton – though he may yet take in the afternoon shift at Lingfield, as well – Fallon could have won two Group One prizes before the weekend is out.
Fallon rides High Standing, the favourite, in the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday, and then flies to Germany on Sunday to partner Youmzain in the Grosser Preis von Baden. Both horse and rider must first undergo some formalities this morning. Fallon will ride Youmzain on Mick Channon's downland gallops before heading up to Holborn to have his licence restored by the British Horseracing Authority.
He has not been able to ride in Britain since his arrest in 2006. At 44, there could be few more exacting tests of his claims as an undiminished rider than Youmzain. Like his new partner, this horse has been around long enough to make us familiar with both his talent and his frailties, and even Channon's loyalty must have been challenged by his failure to land the odds when last seen at Saint-Cloud in June. He then missed the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes with a joint problem, but Channon hopes that Fallon can find the key to the enigma in Germany on Sunday, and then ride him again in the Arc itself.
In the longer term, Luca Cumani has already spoken of establishing a formal association with Fallon, whose stated determination to retrieve "his" title from Ryan Moore has been enthusiastically endorsed by the punters who have so missed his services. Coral yesterday cut him to 100-30 from 4-1 to be champion jockey next year, while Sky Bet offer 10-11 the pair by giving Fallon a start of 35 winners.
Not even Fallon's comeback would wholly overshadow a rematch between Sea The Stars and Fame And Glory at Leopardstown on Saturday. After a late defection from the Irish Derby, because of deteriorating ground, John Oxx is keen to give his champion his one and only scheduled start on home soil this year, but much again hinges on the weather. The forecast is so discouraging Betfair layers were last night offering Sea The Stars at 2-1, with Fame And Glory odds-on. The nine other acceptors are led by Casual Conquest; Mastercraftsman is understood to have been left in the race only as a precaution against something going amiss with Fame And Glory.
Turf account: Chris McGrath
Danehill Intellect (4.50 Leicester)
Made an eye-catching debut at Kempton, dropped out and keeping on well from midfield despite getting trapped on the rail, duly spared a hard race. She was 66-1 that day but can be expected to prove a lot sharper.
Sitwell (3.50 Leicester)
Well backed and off the mark stepped up to this kind of trip at Folkestone last time, making hard work of it initially but going away at the finish. A 4lb higher mark looks reasonable.
One to watch
Alsace Lorraine (James Fanshawe) remains on the upgrade judged on her luckless fourth at Goodwood on Sunday, closing on the bridle but badly hampered over a furlong out.
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Signor Peltro is 20-1 from 25-1 with the sponsors for the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup.
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