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Page last updated at 21:36 GMT, Tuesday, 1 September 2009 22:36 UK

Fallon back in the saddle

Cornelius Lysaght
By Cornelius Lysaght
BBC racing correspondent

Whatever your view of him, no one can dispute that Kieren Fallon's lengthy absence from British Flat racing has left a gaping hole, one that nobody has been able to fill.

Kieren Fallon celebrates winning the 2007 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Dylan Thomas
Quite possibly Flat racing's most exciting jockey ever is back where he belongs

So his return after serving an 18-month ban for a recreational drugs offence can be rated among the most significant racing events of the year.

Brilliant positioning and determination during a race, Herculean strength in the saddle and an acute understanding of his mounts brought Fallon six championships, 15 Classic races and the adoration of his fans.

However, there's also been another, darker side to 'King Kieren', one that makes some uneasy about the almost ecstatic levels of welcome for his comeback, which will be at Lingfield on Friday.

There was the furious hauling of another rider from his mount after a race at Beverley, regular clashes with authority, and an earlier a six-month drugs suspension.

But they were nothing like the events of September 2004 to July 2006, when Fallon was dramatically arrested, questioned, bailed and finally charged by detectives investigating allegations of race-fixing.

As soon as those charges were brought, the authorities in Britain suspended Fallon's riding licence pending any trial, and that's why he hasn't ridden in Britain for over three years.

Regulators in Ireland and France refused to recognise the suspension so he was permitted to line up on Dylan Thomas in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe of 2007, a race he won despite the pressure of an appointment in the dock at the Old Bailey next day.

Two months later, the trial collapsed, with all six defendants walking away free.

Owners and trainers have been queuing up for his services while punters prepare to get back into the habit of supporting his every mount

Lysaght on Fallon

But seasoned observers of the topsy-turvy world inhabited by Kieren Fallon know of his almost uncanny ability to cancel out a positive with a negative.

And such a situation surfaced on the same day with news of the failed test for a Class A drug in France.

It being a second offence, an 18-month global ban was imposed.

Many who saw his drained demeanour outside the Old Bailey wondered if that might be the final nail in the racing coffin of one of the sport's all-time great talents.

But, once again, Fallon has silenced the critics, returning positively bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, the fittest he's ever been, his troubles, seemingly, behind him.

The significance of all this for Flat racing cannot be underestimated.

Sea The Stars' Group One rampage, taking in the 2000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby and the Eclipse and International Stakes, has been the equine highlight of the season.

Kieren Fallon visits the BHA on 1 September ahead of his return to action
Fallon is fitter than ever after his enforced lay-off

But in the 'People Stakes', away from the rightly-lauded Sea The Stars team, things have been a touch on the quiet side - now however, Fallon is back.

And his rivalry with the currently unchallenged champion jockey Ryan Moore is likely to make up a priceless "narrative" for 2010, with Fallon aspiring to a seventh championship.

Absence has indeed made many hearts grow fonder. Owners and trainers have been queuing up for his services while punters prepare to get back into the habit of supporting his every mount.

The regulating British Horseracing Authority (BHA), which brought in the police and imposed the suspension when charges were brought, is not commenting on his return.

But there has been a big element of kissing and making up, with officials at the authority apparently telling Fallon they want to see him back again, and the jockey assuring them he will not be "reckless" with the Rules of Racing in future.

Those that are dubious should give him another chance; there is no reason not to be glad about his return.

He has served his sentence for the drugs offence, and having reviewed all the evidence that led police to the Old Bailey, the BHA has decided not to proceed.

Quite possibly Flat racing's most exciting jockey ever is back where he belongs.

The ups and downs of Kieren Fallon:

February 1965 - Born one of six children in County Clare

1984 - Rides first winner, Piccadilly Lord, Navan

1988 - Rides first GB winner Evichstar, Thirsk

1994 - Hits the headlines when banned for six months for angrily pulling another jockey, Stuart Webster, off his horse at the end of a race at Beverley

1997 - Becomes number one jockey to Henry Cecil; wins the first of 15 GB Classic races; and is crowned champion jockey for the first time

1998 - Awarded £70,000 libel damages from the Sporting Life over accusations made about his riding of Top Cees at Newmarket in 1995

June 1999 - Successful in the Derby, partnering the Cecil-trained Oath, and the pair complete an Epsom Classic double with Ramruma in the Oaks

July 1999 - Fallon is sacked by Cecil amid newspaper reports that the trainer's wife was having an affair with an unnamed jockey. Fallon denies any involvement and takes legal action for breach of contract. The pair settle out of court

2000 - Joins top trainer Sir Michael Stoute as stable jockey, and almost immediately they win the 2000 Guineas with Kings Best

June 2000 - Career hangs by a thread when suffering major shoulder injuries in a fall at Royal Ascot; makes a winning comeback in December

2003 - Admits to receiving treatment for an alcohol problem; wins Derby on Stoute's Kris Kin; champion jockey for the sixth and final time, to date

March 2004 - Beaten on Ballinger Ridge after controversially losing the lead close to the finish of a race at Lingfield; successful in the Derby on North Light

September 2004 - Arrested, questioned and bailed by City of London police investigating allegations of race-fixing

2005 - Leaves Stoute to replace Jamie Spencer as number one jockey to the Irish-based Coolmore racing and thoroughbred breeding operation (trainer: Aidan O'Brien)

July 2006 - Charged with conspiracy to defraud; licence suspended by the (then regulator) Horseracing Regulatory Authority pending any trial, though ruling only applies in UK

November 2006 - Receives six-month ban from the French racing authorities for a drugs offence

October 2007 - Wins Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Dylan Thomas the day before appearing with five other defendants in the race-fixing trial at the Old Bailey

December 2007 - Walks free from court after Mr Justice Forbes rules there is no case to answer; news emerges the following day that he's failed a second drugs test in France for which an 18-month ban is the punishment

September 2009 - Regains licence after assuring the authorities about his knowledge of the rules relating to inside information; returns to the saddle on 4 September at Lingfield's afternoon fixture and in the evening at Kempton

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see also
Fallon gets green light to return
01 Sep 09 |  Horse Racing
Dancing Dunwoody set for Strictly
25 Aug 09 |  Horse Racing
Fallon aims for long-term success
26 Mar 09 |  Horse Racing
Fallon fails in drugs ban appeal
08 Feb 08 |  Horse Racing

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