Saturday 16 December 2017

Fallon's shock return as Flat kicks off at headquarters

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

Thomas Kelly

After a feast of jumping action at Cheltenham, the return of the Flat at the Curragh takes centre stage tomorrow and it's back with a bang as prodigal son Kieren Fallon is set to make a shock comeback on home soil.

Never a man too far from controversy, Fallon is linking up with up-and-coming trainer Michael O'Callaghan who is based at headquarters.

The Kerry native has made a big impression in his fledgling training career, counting Classic hope Blue De Vega among his string, and subject to paperwork, the new association will begin on the first day of the Flat season.

"We're very excited to have him," O'Callaghan said. "It's a great coup for a young trainer like myself to have someone like Kieren on the team."

Fallon has previously ridden as stable jockey to Henry Cecil, Michael Stoute and Aidan O'Brien as well as linking up with the likes of Godolphin and Luca Cumani in the past.

The 51-year-old counts three Derby wins on his CV, as well as two Prix de l'Arcs, experience which O'Callaghan feels will be invaluable. He said: "I've met Kieren a few times and he is obviously one of the most accomplished riders in the world. It's fantastic to have him.

"He rode his first morning for us on Wednesday and it was just brilliant to see him in action, not just with the young horses but with the young jockeys as well."

The Tote Irish Lincoln is the feature event at the Curragh, and it might be worth splitting any intended wager on the Paul Deegan pair of Sruthan and Aussie Valentine.

At Gowran Park today, Willie Mullins sends what for him is a skeleton crew with just two runners, Henry Howard and Verawal - both of whom will do well to make the winner's enclosure.

The former is taking a significant step down in class in the Joey Holden & Kilkenny City Vintners Maiden Hurdle, but he will do well to get the better of the consistent Alamein or Gordon Elliott's Blessed King.

The latter's trainer can land the Rated Novice Hurdle with Automated. Formerly in the care of Clive Brittain before winning for Ger Lyons at Dundalk, the five-year-old finished third to the useful Au Quart De Tour on his debut over hurdles and then beat Stuccodor at Navan next time.

Jessica Harrington's Jett and Tony Martin's impressive Punchestown scorer Lift The Latch are the obvious dangers but Automated has plenty scope for further progress.

Irish Independent

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