Thursday 29 September 2016

'Severe depression' forces six-time champion jockey Kieren Fallon to retire

Published 04/07/2016 | 10:12

Kieren Fallon has retired from racing
Kieren Fallon has retired from racing
'Kieren Fallon (p) is linking up with up-and-coming trainer Michael O’Callaghan' Photo: Getty

Kieren Fallon has announced his retirement from the saddle at the age of 51.

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Fallon, who was crowned champion jockey on six occasions and counts 16 British Classic winners on his record, only returned to European action at the start of this season after striking up a relationship with Curragh trainer Michael O'Callaghan.

The rider had a fall on the gallops last week and O'Callaghan reports the incident to have helped Fallon come to his decision to bow out.

The handler said: "He had a fall on the gallops last week and he just said he's 51 now and doesn't bounce like he used to."

Turf Club chief medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick cited depression as a reason why Fallon has called time on his illustrious career.

McGoldrick said: "Kieren is suffering from severe depression. When he came to me before getting his licence to ride this year it was clear he was suffering from depression and I treated him with anti-depressants.

"He told me that he hadn't intended to make a comeback but decided to do so having been encouraged by Michael (O'Callaghan). But he rang me last week and said his situation had got worse. I met him and on Sunday he told me he didn't feel strong enough to speak to anyone in the media about his situation and asked me to speak on his behalf.

"He told me that he has lost the motivation to continue his riding career and wanted people to know about his decision to retire. He said it was time to move on once his depression has been managed.

"In recent years he found himself suffering from profound fatigue but nothing physically wrong was found when doctors examined him."

The handler said: "He had a fall on the gallops last week and he just said he's 51 now and doesn't bounce like he used to."

Fallon teamed up with O'Callaghan in the spring after returning from a prolonged stint in America and the pair enjoyed Group Three success with Now Or Never in the 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown in May.

The three-times Epsom Derby winner's last ride in public came on June 26, when he rode O'Callaghan's Magical Fire to finish fifth at the Curragh.

The trainer is hoping Fallon will continue to play a part in his team and hailed him as "one of the best of all time".

He said: "Kieren has been a great asset to have around the yard.

"He rode his first Group winner for a long time for us not too long ago.

"It's been great to have him here and he is going to remain here as a work rider and advisor, hopefully for a while to come - he's just giving up the race riding.

"He's had an amazing career on the track - he must be one of the best jockeys of all time.

"He is worth his weight in gold to us here, but the main thing is that we just want what is best for Kieren."

The Samaritans  can be contacted by phone at  116 123. This number is FREE to call. The 1life Freephone  is available 24 hours a day at 1800 247 100 or text the word HELP to 51444. The 1life service is of particular relevance to people who are feeling very low, have had suicidal thoughts. 

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