Owen delight after Plum tip from Fallon

Telephone records showing that Kieren Fallon was contacted a number of times by England and Newcastle footballer Michael Owen were read to the race-fixing trial here yesterday.

On 25 August 2004, Owen texted Fallon about a race. The six-time Flat champion jockey replied: "Plum will win the 4.40 if it goes on the ground." Fallon went on to win on Plum, by a head in heavy ground at Brighton, and received a text back from Owen. Fallon replied "Cheers", the court heard. The odds were 5-1.

Questioned yesterday about the texts and phone calls on Fallon's phone, Acting Detective Inspector Mark Manning, the chief police investigator in the Old Bailey case, said: "We have never doubted he passes tips to other people. We are not saying Kieren Fallon has done anything wrong in conveying information."

Six men, including Fallon and two other jockeys, deny plotting to prevent 27 horses from racing on their merits, thereby defrauding punters.

Fallon, of Tipperary; Fergal Lynch, North Yorkshire; and Darren Williams, North Yorkshire, deny conspiracy between December 2002 and August 2004. Lynch's brother, Shaun Lynch, of Belfast; professional gambler Miles Rodgers, South Yorkshire; and barman Philip Sherkle, of Staffordshire, also plead not guilty. Rodgers also denies concealing the proceeds of crime.

The prosecution alleged that there had been 11 contacts between Fallon and Sherkle, a man said to have acted as a middleman with Rodgers, on one day.

But Manning was asked by Fallon's QC, John Kelsey-Fry, to accept that there had only been one successful contact, a text message. Manning replied: "That would appear to be the case."

Manning said it was "wholly unfair" to suggest he had compromised his independence in the case because of a job offer with the Jockey Club.

The trial continues today.

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