Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 26 March 2017

O'Brien waits on Fallon ruling

RACING

JA McGrath

BALLYDOYLE supremo Aidan O'Brien is today waiting on the decision of a High Court judge in London to see if Kieren Fallon can partner his main Derby hope, Recital, at Epsom tomorrow.

O'Brien's riding plans for the Derby were thrown into confusion when the owner of Native Khan, Ibrahim Araci, took a court action to prevent Fallon riding in the race as a wrangle over a jockey's retainer rumbles on.

Araci will honour the new booking of Johnny Murtagh for his horse no matter what the outcome, but he has argued that Fallon could use his intimate knowledge of Native Khan to his advantage in a tight finish with Recital.

Patrick Lawrence QC, for Araci, told Mr Justice McDuff: "My clients feel badly let down by Mr Fallon. They think they have a promise from him not to ride another horse. He is their favoured jockey and knows the horse."

But Graeme McPherson QC, for Fallon, told the court that the situation had arisen out of an "innocent misunderstanding". He said Fallon had believed Araci was intending to run Native Khan in the French Derby (the Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly on Sunday) rather than at Epsom and so had thought he was not under any obligation for the English Classic.

The court heard how the controversial former champion jockey had sent a text message to Araci, which read: "I am very sorry I can't ride your horse. Please don't be mad. I will make it up to you."

Both sides accepted in court that there had been an agreement between owner and rider. There had also been mention of a retainer of £10,000 to secure Fallon's services for Native Khan, which is widely regarded as a decent each-way chance for the Derby.

The colt finished third behind Frankel in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket under Olivier Peslier, who rode him because Fallon was suspended.

Fallon rode Native Khan in a gallop around the Derby course at Epsom only eight days ago.The Clare native made no secret of the fact that he was facing a decision between the two colts. Recital is owned by a Ballydoyle partnership headed by Sue Magnier. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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