Monday 18 December 2017

Kieren Fallon cleared to ride The Derby tomorrow

Kieren Fallon. Photo: Getty Images
Kieren Fallon. Photo: Getty Images

Martin Evans

Leading jockey Kieren Fallon has been told he can ride in tomorrow’s Derby after a legal bid to ban him from the race was rejected in the High Court.

The owner of 10-1 shot Native Khan, which Fallon had been under contract to ride, sought a last minute injunction barring him from the race after the Champion Jockey announced he was planning to ride rival mount, Recital.

After a tense hearing on the eve of the historic Classic, the judge in the case, Mr Justice MacDuff, said he was not prepared to grant the injunction.

But he criticised Fallon’s evidence in the hearing describing it as “verging on fanciful” and granted the claimant leave to appeal, leaving the possibility open that Fallon could still be banned at the eleventh hour.

Another hearing is expected to take place later this afternoon.

Mr Justice MacDuff said if he was to grant the injunction it would be unfair to the betting public who had placed a large amount of money on Recital.

But he said: "This is not to be regarded in anyway as a win for Mr Fallon.”

He added: “I have little sympathy for him and he has acted with deliberate selfishness.”

The Court heard how Fallon, who is a three-time winner of the Epsom Derby, had an agreement with Native Khan’s owner Ibrahim Araci, to ride the horse whenever it ran.

But last week, with just days to go to the big race, he announced that he intended to ride rival horse Recital, which is owned by Irish tycoon John Magnier and trained by Aidan O’Brien.

Mr Araci and his daughter Pinar told the court they felt “badly let down” by Fallon and were forced to draft in substitute jockey, Johnny Murtagh at the last minute.

Fallon claimed the situation had arisen as a result of an “innocent misunderstanding” as he had believed the Araci family were planning to run Native Kahn in the French Derby and so he was free to ride whichever horse he wanted.

Angry at what they described as a clear breach of contract they applied for a High Court injunction to ban Fallon from the race.

Their lawyers argued that Fallon could take advantage of his knowledge of Native Khan to win the race for a rival.

But after considering his judgment overnight Mr Justice MacDuff ruled that Fallon should be allowed to race.

He said it would be unfair to Recital's owners if they had to draft in a new jockey at the last minute and unfair to the punters.

He said: “The betting public have to date placed wages in the belief that Recital, an enormously fancied horse would be partnered by Mr Fallon. His chances would be reduced by another rider.”

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