Fallon 'threw race on Ballinger Ridge in deliberate act which made £26,000'

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Kieren Fallon was yesterday accused of systematic corruption to protect the interests of a fraudulent betting syndicate. The race-fixing trial at the Old Bailey was told that the six-times champion jockey had sought to prevent numerous horses from winning, though he was not always able to do so. And even those bungles, which cost the scam hundreds of thousands of pounds, had served to betray his involvement, because they had resulted in angry changes in strategy.

Fallon is among six defendants, including two other riders, facing a charge of conspiracy to defraud customers of the online betting exchange, Betfair. They all deny the allegations against them.

Resuming his opening submissions, Jonathan Caplan QC claimed that Fallon had thrown a race that was palpably within the grasp of his mount. Riding Ballinger Ridge, at Lingfield in March 2004, Fallon appeared to stop riding as he entered the home straight with a huge lead. Fallon told a stewards' inquiry at the time that he had given the horse "a breather", being afraid that the horse might become "legless". After Ballinger Ridge was caught close home by another horse, Rye, the stewards found Fallon guilty of an error of judgement. But Caplan said that they could not be aware of the bigger picture at the time.

Uniquely among the 27 races listed for the jury, in this case the Jockey Club had previously alerted officials at the track that Ballinger Ridge had been laid to lose a large amount of money.

Caplan claimed that Fergal Lynch, one of the other jockeys charged, had in this instance acted as an intermediary between Fallon and Miles Rodgers, who is alleged to have orchestrated the conspiracy and controlled a number of Betfair accounts.

Charting telephone and text traffic, Caplan told the jury that Rodgers had called Lynch several times before the race, and that Lynch had sent Fallon a text at 1.40pm. Rodgers spoke to Lynch for a final time 10 minutes before the race, and two minutes later began to lay Ballinger Ridge to lose over £72,000. When Rye caught Fallon's horse the bet won over £26,000.

An Australian expert, who will be giving evidence during the trial, had viewed a video of the race and concluded that this was "not a marginal case of a jockey inadvertently dropping his hands". Caplan said that Ray Murrihy will tell the jury how Ballinger Ridge was still running within himself passing the two furlong pole, five or six lengths clear. "But Mr Fallon then dramatically slows his momentum to the point where he is doing virtually nothing," Caplan said. "Prior to the furlong marker Mr Fallon turns and looks back. The other runners are four to five lengths behind. Mr Fallon eases the horse down, which would send the message to the horse that the race was over. Mr Fallon looks round again at the half-furlong and sees, or presumably sees, Rye coming."

Caplan then claimed that Fallon only tried to get Ballinger Ridge to renew his effort once Rye was going past, by which stage he had lost momentum. "There is no legitimate reason why Mr Fallon would need to be looking back and steadying his horse down with a furlong to go," he said. The jury would have to decide whether this was a terrible mistake, or whether Fallon wanted Rye to beat his mount.

Fallon, Lynch, Rodgers and three others deny conspiring to make 27 horses lose between December 2002 and September 2004. The accused are: Fallon, 42, formerly of Newmarket, Cambridgeshire, but now of Tipperary, Ireland; Lynch, 29, of Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire; a third jockey, Darren Williams, 29, of Leyburn, North Yorkshire; Lynch's brother, Shaun, 37, of Belfast; Rodgers, 38, of Silkstone, South Yorkshire; and Philip Sherkle, 42, of Tamworth, Staffordshire. Rodgers also denies concealing the proceeds of crime. All the defendants are on bail.

Caplan said that the prosecution would illustrate its concerns about several other rides. He indicated that Murrihy had reservations about the tactics used by Lynch and Williams in the majority of their rides under review. In Fallon's case, Murrihy was unhappy with six of his 17 rides – Ballinger Ridge, Doctor Hilary, Lost Soldier Three, Goodwood Spirit, Barking Mad and Beauvrai – even though the latter pair had both won. For various reasons, Fallon had been unable to stop three others from winning, as well, while in the other races there had been no need for any intervention.

The jury was told that Fallon's wins, far from exonerating him, demonstrated his involvement in the conspiracy. Caplan said his success on Russian Rhythm, in much the most prestigious race under review, cost the conspirators £160,000. "The prosecution case here is that Rodgers and the other conspirators were clearly expecting the horse to lose under Mr Fallon, but something went wrong," Caplan said. "The prosecution cannot say precisely what went wrong, but we can and do say that Shaun Lynch was seen as an unreliable intermediary after this and eventually was replaced... by Mr Philip Sherkle."

During the days after Russian Rhythm's success, Caplan claimed that urgent attempts were made to meet Fallon, and possibly to confront him. Rodgers and Shaun Lynch went to Leicester racecourse and had given Fallon and another jockey a lift to a nearby airport. A week later Shaun Lynch made concerted efforts to set up a meeting, at one stage sending Fallon 17 texts.

That night, along with Shaun Lynch, Sherkle and another man, Rodgers was observed driving at 1am towards the village where Fallon was living. But he turned around after confronting an unmarked police car. They would not have known that its driver was a surveillance officer, Caplan said, but they were obviously concerned that they might be being watched. "The prosecution suggests that this incident is completely inconsistent with any suggestion that might be made by the defence that Fallon was simply tipping Mr Sherkle and Mr Rodgers," Caplan emphasised.

In August 2004, Fergal Lynch and Rodgers had flown to Spain, and Caplan said that a ticket had also been purchased for Fallon, but that he failed to show up for the flight. An undercover policeman was also aboard and, after they disembarked at Malaga, Rodgers was overheard to tell Lynch: "When you meet the big man, play up to him. He's coming down internally." Caplan claimed that they had travelled to meet one of the unknown conspirators.

The trial continues today.

Under the spotlight: The 27 races alleged to have been fixed

KIEREN FALLON

Ballinger Ridge

Lingfield, 2 March 2004

Liability £72,312

Result 2nd of 10.

Profit £26,599.

Russian Rhythm

Newbury, 15 May

2004

Liability £160,256

Result 1st

Loss £160,256

Levitator

Warwick, 14 June 2004

Liability £79,276

Result 2nd of five

Profit £10,842

Krynica

Pontefract, 20 June 2004

Liability £165,905

Result 1st

Loss £165,905

Bubbling Fun

Lingfield, 30 June

2004

Liability £58,599

Result 3rd of 11

Profit £11,323

Bonecrusher

Epsom, 8 July

2004

Liability £101,967

Result: 5th of six

Profit £20,943

Right Answer

York, 10 July 2004

Liability £120,895

Result 2nd of 10

Profit £20,334

Favour

Doncaster, 15 July

2004

Liability £100,876

Result 7th of 11

Profit £12,286

Doctor Hilary

Ayr, 19 July 2004

Liability £106,567

Result 2nd of eight

Profit £25,110

Daring Aim

Newmarket, 23 July 2004

Liability £105,078

Result 1st

Loss £105,078

Dubai Venture

Ayr, 6 August

2004

Liability £57,616

Result 6th of 14

Profit £3,843

Lost Soldier Three

Newbury, 13 Aug 2004

Liability £77,849

Result 2nd of eight

Profit £18,929

Goodwood Spirit

Goodwood, 14 August 2004

Liability £116,738

Result 3rd of nine

Profit £29,822

Rangoon

Goodwood, 14 August 2004

Liability £89,065

Result 2nd of five

Profit £36,486

Dial Square

Yarmouth, 16 August

2004

Liability £39,927

Result 17th of 20

Profit £2,692

Barking Mad

Windsor, 23 August

2004

Liability £106,832

Result 1st

Loss £106,832

Beauvrai

Yarmouth, 24 August 2004

Liability £19,140

Result 1st

Loss £19,140

FERGAL LYNCH

CD Europe

Southwell, 18 February

2003

Liability £35,784

Result 8th of 10

Profit £1,973

South Atlantic

Thirsk, 10 May

2003

Liability £35,723

Result 2nd of 18

Profit £16,623

Kristikhab

Carlisle, 16 July

2004

Liability £25,623

Result 7th of 10

Profit £4,986

Bond Babe

Ripon, 31 August

2004

Liability £64,084

Result 3rd of 13

Profit £12,466

Familiar Affair

Ripon, 31 August

2004

Liability £43,328

Result 1st

Loss £43,328

Bond City

Ripon, 31 August 2004

Liability £68,763

Result 2nd of eight

Profit £12,537

DARREN WILLIAMS

Legal Set

Lingfield, 30 Dec 2002

Liability £73,820

Result: 3rd of 14

Profit £20,759

Chispa

Newcastle, 24 March 2003

Liability £13,362

Result 3rd of 14

Profit £1,260

Romil Satr

Southwell, 25 June 2004

Liability £92,125

Result 2nd of nine

Profit £16,335

Wares Home

Yarmouth, 30 June 2004

Liability £90,804

Result 3rd of 11

Profit £16,556

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