Monday 5 December 2016

Johnny Murtagh: Kieren must take the help that's offered in depression battle

Published 04/07/2016 | 14:42

Johnny Murtagh has urged Kieran Fallon to seek help in his battle with depression
Johnny Murtagh has urged Kieran Fallon to seek help in his battle with depression

Former top jockey Johnny Murtagh is hoping Kieren Fallon will "walk the walk" as he seeks help for the mental health issues that have ultimately ended his career.

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Fallon, 51, announced he was hanging up his saddle as he continues to battle what has been described as a "profound depression" that has enveloped him for nearly three years.

The Irish Turf Club's chief medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick revealed Fallon had sought his help to deal with his illness but former weighing room colleague Murtagh is eager to see him follow through with his treatment.

Now a trainer, Murtagh said: "I'm not surprised (to hear he has retired) really because in recent months, recent years you know, he hasn't been showing up for many, many race meetings and letting people down - that is not the real Kieren Fallon because one thing he does do is love riding horses.

"I think he's at his most peaceful when he's on horseback so not showing up or coming to the races is not really him. It was always going to happen like this, I felt, and I just read now that he's been suffering from depression.

"There's loads and loads of great help out there, if you want it. If you're honest with yourself and true to yourself and you really want help there's loads of it out there.

"I've heard it all before. He's opened up about different things before but does he go and get help or is it just the talk? We all can say we're suffering from this or that but you have to go and do something about it.

"There's no point in talking the talk, you have to walk the walk. Maybe it's time now, he's 51 so maybe he goes and gets the help he needs and follows the help. Nobody is bulletproof, we all need help."

Fallon and Murtagh often competed against each other in the peak of their careers, with Murtagh eventually going on to take the job as retained rider to Aidan O'Brien - a role that Fallon also once filled.

While both riders enjoyed many great days as part of the Coolmore team, Murtagh's abiding memory of Fallon is finishing third behind him on Alamshar in the 2003 Derby.

Alamshar eventually stamped himself as the superior horse, but Fallon's mount Kris Kin triumphed on the day.

Murtagh told At The Races: "Kieren Fallon was a brilliant, brilliant jockey. I'm just thinking back, one of the best rides I've ever seen in the biggest race in the world - the Derby with Kris Kin.

"The best horse didn't win the race, the jockey on the day carried him home.

"It was a funny race, we were going very slow. Pat Eddery (on eventual second The Great Gatsby) made the running and we were so tight coming down the hill at Epsom, it was unbelievable. We were like sardines squashed together.

"I pulled out on Alamshar and moved to the outside and Fallon went down the inside, so I thought 'that's the last we'll see of him'.

"Lo and behold, the last 150 yards, he's got him home to win. A brilliant, brilliant race and a brilliant Derby - not a brilliant horse, but a brilliant ride.

"I was at Michael Stoute's when he was at the peak of his powers and he was like radar. He could get up the inside and win in those tight finishes.

"He was brilliant jockey.

"I've a lot of time for Kieren. I really like him, I think he's a great lad but as a jockey, in those years when he was riding for Stoute, I think he was at his brilliant best."

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