A few more Saturdays like the last one and Kieren Fallon might be thinking again. His jockeyship on 66/1 Aaim To Prosper in the Cesarewitch was outstanding, and this was certainly not a race he would include in those he described last week as “boring”.
Fallon was a late substitute for Frankie Dettori at last week’s Leaders in Racing Conference, and was speaking to the 250 senior executives from within the industry, including representatives from governing authorities, broadcasters, betting operators, racecourses, owners, jockeys, sponsors and government representatives about life in the saddle. But in Fallon’s case, perhaps not for much longer.
He said, “I don’t think I have many years left in the saddle. I feel great. I feel as fit as ever and I’m enjoying it, but I’m not getting the same rides I used to. I’ve had a great career, I’ve enjoyed it, and I wouldn’t like to go out without riding in the big races. If it continues to go downhill, I wouldn’t stick around.”
Since he returned to riding in 2009 after an 18 month suspension, he has shown he is as good as ever and riding winners, with 140 successes in 2010 and 154 last year. But the big race wins were few and far between, and he had to wait until Royal Ascot this year for a first British Group 1 success following his new beginning. There he brought Most Improved home in front in the St James Palace Stakes. Last month’s win on Society Rock in the BetFred Sprint Cup at Haydock is the only other Group 1 winner he’s ridden in England.
What then, would the 47 year old go on to go? In the past he has ruled out a training career, but that now sounded a possibility, although Fallon was clear it would not be easy. He said, “Trainers starting out need to start with lesser races and build their way up. They start with cast offs and rejects, and try to rejuvenate them and build a way up.”
Somehow that doesn’t sound like the way Fallon would want to do it. Speaking of the way he and other leading jockeys view weekday racing with its poor prize money he said, “We just target the weekends now, those are the big days. Prize money is so much better, so you’ll have good rides and good racing. During the week it’s boring, but you still have to do it to keep sharp and fit, and for some people to earn a bit of money.”
Good thing the Cesarewitch was run on Saturday then.