Friday 23 February 2018

Ban rules Fallon out of Derby

Neil Lancefield

Kieren Fallon could only watch the Epsom Derby after the English Court of Appeal banned him from taking part in the race, which was won by French horse Pour Moi.

Native Khan's owner Ibrahim Araci brought the action against Fallon over claims he had broken a "promise" to ride his horse, and argued that under the terms of a retainer agreement he should not be allowed to ride any other rival in the premier Classic.

Fallon was "disappointed and very sorry" after the reversal of a decision made on Friday not to grant an injunction preventing the three-time Derby winner from riding the Aidan O'Brien-trained Recital, which finished sixth in the hands of late replacement Pat Smullen.

Fallon denied breach of contract and said there had been an "innocent misunderstanding". In his ruling, Lord Justice Jackson said the status of Fallon did not allow him to avoid the law. "There is nothing special about the world of racing which entitles the major players to act in flagrant breach of contract," he said.

Mr Araci was "thrilled" by the verdict, which came just hours before the race, in which the Johnny Murtagh-ridden Native Khan finished fifth. His lawyer, Mehmet Erdogan, said: "He's thrilled. He always trusted the British legal system, that's why as a foreigner he invested in this country. He believed that justice would never go wrong in the UK."

Mr Erdogan said that Fallon had "deliberately and cynically" breached a contract. "Five days before the race, surprisingly and shockingly, he informed our client that he would not be running our client's horse, but riding a competitor's horse. That was breach of contract," he said. He added that it was "unlikely" the jockey would ride a horse owned by Mr Araci in the future.

Native Khan's trainer Ed Dunlop said: "A contract was signed in my office and therefore for the last three and a half weeks I've presumed Kieren was riding my horse, and was obviously surprised when he wasn't.

"The Aracis have got what they wanted. It's not my job to say right or wrong things about Kieren in this one instance.

"He's ridden Breeders' Cup winners for me and an Oaks winner here for me on Ouija Board -- we've had some wonderful days in the past. It's an unfortunate situation, that's the best way I can say it."

Speaking before the race, Fallon's solicitor Christopher Stewart-Moore said: "Kieren is obviously disappointed and very sorry not to be riding in the Derby this afternoon. He wishes the owner of Native Khan the very best of luck."

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