Controversial Irish-born former champion jockey Keiren Fallon is never very far from the headlines (not always for the right reasons), and looks as though he might once again be at the centre of a ‘misunderstanding’ as to which horse he will partner in the forthcoming Investec Epsom Derby on June 4 , writes Elliot Slater.
Fallon, who has won racing’s most glittering prize three times – Oath (1999), Kris Kin (2003), and North Light (2004) – was understood to have agreed to ride Qipco 2000 Guineas third Native Khan for Ed Dunlop in the big race, but after partnering Aidan O’Brien’s Recital to victory in the Group 2 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown on May 8, O’Brien explained that he had booked Fallon for the first time this season on the understanding that Fallon would remain on board for the ride in the Derby itself. Those placing a horse racing bet will be wondering what exactly is going on.
Following his win in Ireland Recital is now a best priced 6/1 second favourite for the showcase event, whilst Native Khan, the subject of steady support in recent days as well, is still available to back at 14/1. Since his win on Recital Fallon has remained tight-lipped about just which mount he will take, but when asked what he understood arrangements to be, Dunlop replied, “I’m led to believe he is riding my horse in the Derby. You need to talk to Keiren.”
Fallon, in a recent newspaper article was fulsome in his praise of O’Brien’s big race candidate, suggesting that the horse had everything required of a potential Derby winner, a statement some have taken to indicate that he intends to switch allegiance and be on board the Ballydoyle colt. Doubtless Dunlop would be far from pleased if he is left in the lurch so close to the Derby, but with Olivier Peslier, Paul Hanagan, and Eddie Ahern having all ridden the Native Khan before, there is likely to be a queue of top riders offering their services to take the ride.