O'Brien faces anxious wait as judges give Fallon ruling
Published 04/06/2011 | 05:00
IT was another night of anxious waiting for Aidan O'Brien last night as Kieren Fallon won't learn until this morning whether he will be able to ride Recital in the Epsom Derby.
Two British Court of Appeal judges are to give a decision today on whether Fallon should be barred from the race, with the verdict due to be delivered seven hours before the scheduled post time of 4.0.
Lord Justice Jackson and Lord Justice Elias have been asked to overturn a decision made by a High Court judge yesterday.
Fallon looked set to be reacquainted with the Ed Dunlop-trained Native Khan in the Derby after riding him in a piece of work at Epsom last week. But on Monday it was announced he would partner Recital, which he rode to win the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown.
Mr Justice MacDuff, sitting in London, refused to grant an injunction preventing the three-time Derby winner from riding O'Brien's strongly fancied runner in the Classic. He had been urged to make the order by Ibrahim Araci, the owner of Native Khan.
Mr Araci brought his action over claims that Fallon had broken a "promise" to ride Native Khan. He argued that, under the terms of a retainer agreement, he should not be allowed to ride any other horse.
Mr Justice MacDuff said yesterday morning that he was not prepared to grant the injunction -- but gave Mr Araci the go-ahead to appeal against his decision.
Lord Justice Jackson announced that the appeal court's decision needed "overnight reflection because of the importance of the issues" and that the ruling would be given at 9.0 this morning.
Fallon, who denied breach of contract and said there had been an "innocent misunderstanding", was not present for yesterday's hearings as he was riding at Epsom. Mr Justice MacDuff said he was satisfied "that the true facts are that the defendant (Fallon) believed he could ignore this binding contract".
In his judgment he said, the jockey had acted with "deliberate selfishness".
But, in exercising his discretion on whether to grant an injunction, there were a number of factors to be put into the scale, including the public interest.Preventing Fallon from riding in "a premier Classic race" would be "severe punishment indeed".
Although an injunction would cover "one short day", it would involve "a restraint of trade and a prohibition on a major sportsman from carrying on his occupation".
He added: "It is not just one day -- it is Derby Day."
Another factor which could be taken into account is the difficulty which could be faced by the owners of Recital in finding a replacement jockey of Fallon's stature at "this late stage". Also the betting public had placed wagers in the belief that Recital, an "enormously fancied horse", was going to be partnered by Fallon.