Fallon rides at brilliant best to seize dramatic Arc win on Dylan Thomas

In the hope of making a fair judgement on Kieren Fallon, a dozen ordinary men and women will today begin to explore the mysteries of horseracing. On the eve of his ordeal, however, the jockey himself was instead teaching horseracing something about people.

His success on Dylan Thomas in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe – one of epic drama – transcends the familiar, trivial dimensions of his sport. It disclosed something of the very fabric of endeavour. It was not wrought merely from mental fortitude, which is after all more a matter of defiance than dynamism. Rather it was fashioned in a zone known to few, in any walk of life, where detachment and engagement are kept in precarious, critical tension. As nearly as you might dare use the word, in such an environment, it was the stuff of genius.

This morning, Fallon will sit in the Old Bailey and listen as the prosecution counsel finally begins to detail the allegations menacing his career. Along with five others, including two jockeys, the six times champion is accused of conspiracy to defraud punters. They all deny the charges.

Whatever the outcome, it is going to be a depressing experience for the sport. Yesterday, with a theatricality that seldom features in his own demeanour, Fallon showed everyone exactly what is at stake. Perhaps no other jockey in the world would have won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Dylan Thomas, who held on in a photo from the fast finishing outsider, Youmzain.

But even this indelible moment, this statement of his mastery, had a byzantine intricacy. Eyes that thought they had seen everything, filled with tears as Fallon returned to an ecstatic reception in the unsaddling enclosure, an Irish tricolour draped over his shoulders, the hazy sun of a sumptuous autumn afternoon slanting under the reddening canopy of trees.

He was halfway through describing this as the greatest day of his life when a French official grabbed his arm and led him away to a stewards' inquiry. He was aghast. He had no idea that he might have transgressed any rules, but Dylan Thomas had certainly hung right once taking the lead, a furlong out – an increasingly familiar trait – and in the process impeded Zambezi Sun. Over the next 35 minutes, tension grew intolerably. As a prologue to the far graver hearing that begins today, it verged on the sadistic. Mick Channon, the trainer of Youmzain, wandered over to John Magnier and his partners in Coolmore Stud, the owners of Dylan Thomas and Fallon's ever-loyal patrons. They shook hands and chatted nervously.

And when, finally, Dylan Thomas was confirmed the winner, matters became no less surreal. Fallon was jostled through a thicket of back-slapping and microphones and bundled alongside Magnier in a horse-drawn carriage, and carted away to a presentation on the sunlit track. Then, the start delayed by 25 minutes, he jumped aboard Yeats for the Prix du Cadran, and was beaten into third at odds-on – a reminder, as if any were still needed, that racing obeys no very obvious script.

The fact that this was a first success in the Arc for Aidan O'Brien, who has marshalled this horse's resources so carefully through a very long season, somehow became a mere footnote. And it is also a pity for Dylan Thomas that these exotic circumstances should again deny him overdue attention. This was only his fourth start over a mile and a half, all at championship level, and his sole defeat remains in a photo for last year's Derby. Even before yesterday, Fallon acclaimed him as the best horse he has ridden, and now Dylan Thomas will almost certainly proceed to the Breeders' Cup and prove as much to the Americans.

He was always going eagerly here, and could not have gathered a greater surge in the straight had he been aware of the agonising narrative forces surrounding his rider. It was a very different story for Authorized, the hot favourite. He was conspicuously on his toes beforehand, was soon marooned on the wide outside, and mustered only a halting challenge from the rear round the home turn. Frankie Dettori was nonplussed. "The horse was beaten before the start," the jockey said. "He wasn't the same horse today and I don't know if it was the track or what." By all accounts Peter Chapple-Hyam, Authorized's trainer, was unimpressed by Dettori's tactics, having expected the horse to be covered up and to be closer to the pace.

Instead it was Youmzain, unconsidered after a thrashing from Dylan Thomas at Ascot in the summer, who emerged from the pack and forged a desperate finish. Sagara excelled for France in third, but Soldier Of Fortune could only keep on steadily after leading briefly three furlongs out.

Fallon felt that the winner's cutting edge had been blunted by the sticky ground. "And I would have preferred it if they had gone quicker," he said. "I was cantering all the way. I could feel Youmzain coming, but even if they had gone round again they wouldn't have got by him. He just sticks his head out again. He has done it all now."

As for the battle still to come, Fallon admitted that he had been distracted "a lot" by his strange limbo over the 15 months since he was charged. "Hopefully it won't last much longer," he said. "It has affected my confidence. It has affected me all year."

But the last word goes to O'Brien, who praised his horse as a heavyweight among lightweights and might equally have said the same of his rider. "Everyone knows Kieren is an iron man," he said. "With all that going on we didn't even know if he would be able to ride today. When Kieren gets on a horse he goes into a different land and the land Kieren lives in most of the time a lot us wouldn't understand – but what a unique talent he is."

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn