Racing Heroes: Kieren Fallon
He was no saint but, for Whistlejacket, Kieren Fallon in the saddle was a racing hero
The career of Kieren Fallon is well documented so what is there to say that is new? The facts are after all well known.
He was a multiple Group winning jockey, and won the Derby four times. He rode successfully for all the great trainers of the modern era, notably Henry Cecil, Michael Stoute and Aiden O’Brien. He had significant issues with drink and drugs and served an 18-month drug ban in 2007-2009. He found himself in court on two occasions, though he was exonerated both times.
Part of his appeal was that he was often seen as the bad boy but more than that he showed an amazing understanding of horses. It is this latter aspect upon which I want to concentrate.
When he was on a horse, nothing else seemed to matter to K Fallon. I can remember him winning the Stewards Cup at Goodwood for Mick Easterby on Hoof It and the impression was of power in the saddle for sure, but also an almost centaur like quality in the way he harnessed the power of the horse to secure victory.
Similarly, his win on Kris Kin in the Derby where he combined amazing tactical awareness to snake his way through the field as well as brute strength to secure victory for a horse which many even now cannot see as a Group One performer.
But the other thing he demonstrated that day was an ability to judge the pace, something he had learnt in America when banned for six months for separating Darren Webster from his horse.
If you have brute strength, tactical awareness, an excellent judge of pace and a love and affinity for horses, you are some jockey.
Other memories include that controversial Arc win on Dylan Thomas. He held on to win by a head from Youmzain and this race almost summarised Fallon’s career.
He galvanised his mount in his usual all action style, gave his supporters a fright before winning the race and then had to endure a lengthy stewards enquiry when it would have surprised no-one if the horse had been demoted.
But then Fallon was used to legal actions of many kinds and the very next day he had to appear at the Old Bailey in the trial of his life.
Heroes are not goody-goodies or saints; they often have feet of clay. Think Churchill, Wagner, Caravaggio, Lester Pigott.
So, the reason I class Kieren Fallon as a hero of the turf is that I have never seen anyone ride on the flat with that level of commitment to and empathy with the horse.
You just have to take the rough with the smooth, sometimes.
Racing Heroes series
Lester Piggott http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3Yo
Kieren Fallon http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3Ua
The Aga Khan http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3SB
Best Mate and Kauto Star http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3Rk
Persian Punch http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3Px
Sir Peter O’Sullevan http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3NB