McCoy says bans on riders 'heavy-handed'

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The Independent Online

Tony McCoy was quick to express his delight after Kieren Fallon was freed to ride in Britain again. McCoy, the champion National Hunt jockey in Britain for the past 12 seasons, is full of admiration for the Irishman and believes Fallon has every right to feel aggrieved by his treatment over the past 18 months.

"From my personal point of view, I am a racing fan and I like watching racing, and I certainly like watching Flat racing more when Kieren Fallon is riding," McCoy said. "In my opinion he's been one of the greatest Flat jockeys we have seen for a long, long time, and his record suggests that.

"I think if I was in his position I would feel very hard done by watching horses you would have ridden going out and winning Classics when you're sat at home and you're not guilty. I think most genuine racing fans will be very happy to see Kieren Fallon back riding races again," he told Racing UK.

McCoy does not believe there is large-scale corruption within the sport and that the decision to suspend the licences of Fallon, Fergal Lynch and Darren Williams, who were also acquitted, was heavy handed.

He added: "In fairness, I think on the whole racing is very professional in every sense. I think it has improved and I wouldn't like racing to have any corruption in it from my point of view. It's what I earn my living from and what I love doing, so obviously the cleaner it is kept the better. If I was in their position I would feel very bitter about it, as you should be innocent until proven guilty."

Willie Carson, now a television racing analyst, won five Flat jockeys' championships over the course of his career in the saddle one fewer than Fallon responded: "There will always be the certain one or two bad apples about that are trying to make an easy buck.

"That happens in every walk of life and racing is no different. But in racing, they do try very hard to get rid of those bad apples when they do turn up," the Scot added.

Walter Swinburn, who partnered the great Shergar among others during his successful career as a jockey, before being granted a trainer's licence, was happy for Fallon.

He believes racing's public image is now stronger than ever and predicts an imminent race-riding return for Fallon in Britain. Swinburn said: "I'm delighted for him. People have talked about it being a weight off his shoulders but that's an understatement.

"I'm sure he'll be really keen to get back riding again. The best racing is still here in England, and we shouldn't forget that. I think this can only make it [racing] stronger because it is cleared now. I believe this is the third go [the police have had] investigating our great sport, and it can only get stronger."

Fallon's solicitor, Ian Burton, commented: "The reality of this case was that far from proving Kieren Fallon's guilt, the evidence called by the prosecution clearly established that he had never been a party to the alleged conspiracy.

"Kieren Fallon did not receive, nor was he promised, a single penny as a reward for his alleged role in the conspiracy which involved him risking his entire career as well as his liberty."

Burton added: "The collapse of this prosecution at a cost to the taxpayer of approaching 10m, is a matter that ought to cause grave public concern and requires, in our view, consideration to there being an inquiry called by the Attorney General into the circumstances of the investigation, and importantly into the conduct of the trial by the prosecution team."