Fallon: Race-fixing 'impossible'

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The Independent Online

Kieren Fallon told police he had never deliberately lost a race and the idea of doing it was like a plot from a Dick Francis novel, the court heard yesterday. The six-time champion jockey said he always put in the "extra measure" to win.

Fallon told detectives it would be impossible to do so as "horses have minds of their own". He admitted he had held up horses in the early part of a race so they could come from the back to win. "If you go too fast too early, you'll end up like Paula Radcliffe did in the Olympics," he told police.

Fallon, 42, is one of six men who deny taking part in an alleged £2m race-fixing conspiracy. Police interviews with Fallon were read out at the trial and, asked about the practice of race-fixing, the jockey said: "It is impossible. Horses have minds of their own."

Detective Constable Matthew Hussey, of City of London Police, asked him: "Have you ever deliberately lost a race on a horse?" "Never" Fallon replied. He was also asked if he knew of other jockeys talking about doing it. "If it was it was as a joke, because it is impossible," he replied. But, later he said: "Some have tried but have been caught."

The policeman asked him about his reputation for "getting the maximum out of a horse" and asked if he had a "degree of control" over his ride. "Not really, no," Fallon said. He was then asked: "If the horse wants to go as fast as it can, you couldn't slow it down?"

Fallon replied: "Well, you wouldn't want to slow it down, only to push." He was asked: "Say if you wanted to lose a race?" He answered: "I wouldn't, it wouldn't come into my category of riding." Fallon said he had never been asked to lose a race but had given tips. Asked what he knew about the practice of "stopping a horse", he said he had read about it in "Dick Francis stories" and "Mickey Rooney films".

Fallon was asked by Hussey about the "extra measure" he was "renowned for putting into a race". "I always put that in," he said. "My riding has never been questioned. If that extra measure wasn't going in, I'd be in front of the stewards and I'd be suspended."

Earlier, the court heard Fallon rode a "brilliant" race to win on the Queen's horse Daring Aim at Newmarket even though it was allegedly supposed to have lost as part of the betting scam. Trainer Sir Michael Stoute, 72, said: "It was a brilliant ride. She was not helping him." Stoute also praised for Fallon's ability in June 2004 on Krynica at Pontefract, which also won and is included in the alleged plot. After watching the race again, he said: "He is squeezing her and encouraging her. It is beautiful horsemanship – and she was not very good." Fallon was retained by the veteran Newmarket trainer between 2000 and 2004.

Asked by John Kelsey-Fry, QC, defending, what motivated Fallon – money or winning – Stoute said: "While he was with me, it had been the pursuit of winning."

It is alleged Fallon was involved in a plot to prevent horses running on their merits to allow a betting syndicate to win on betting exchange Betfair.

Jockeys Fallon, 42, formerly of Newmarket, Cambridgeshire, but now of Tipperary, Ireland; Fergal Lynch, 29, of Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire; and Darren Williams, 29, of Leyburn, North Yorkshire, deny the conspiracy between December 2002 and August 2004.

Lynch's brother, Shaun Lynch, 38, of Belfast; professional gambler Miles Rodgers, 38, of Silkstone, South Yorkshire; and barman Philip Sherkle, 42, of Tamworth, Staffordshire, also plead not guilty. Rodgers denies concealing the proceeds of crime.

The trial continues today.