DUBAI // Kieren Fallon, the six-time UK champion jockey, has targeted a 16th British Classic this summer in a bid to seal his comeback after a drugs ban. After his second victory of the Dubai Racing Carnival, Fallon spoke of the need to prove himself again through winning races at the highest level.
The Irishman made his comeback last September after serving an 18-month ban for drug use - which came just after he had been exonerated of race fixing and conspiracy to defraud charges for which he had been banned in 2006. Just five months after his highly-publicised return to the saddle, Fallon is eager to regain the British jockeys' championship from Ryan Moore, the three-time champion and a rider also enjoying success in the UAE.
"I think what really makes a jockey is if you can win the Classics. I try every year. You need to win a Classic, at least one," he said. "You need to win the Derby and the Oaks and if you don't then you are just going to be one of the jockeys. There is a difference between a good, winning jockey and a champion jockey and it is hunger. You have to be able to push yourself that extra mile." Riding every week at Meydan Racecourse, where he claimed his second victory on Luca Cumani's Drunken Sailor on Friday night, Fallon recognises that even with all his past achievements it is a case of practice makes perfect.
"When I get back to England I am going to be working harder than I've ever worked in my life," said Fallon, who won his last UK jockeys' title in 2003. "I am keen and hungry and I need it now more than I ever needed it before." Few jockeys know better than Fallon what it takes to triumph in a big races, he has ridden the winners in 15 British Classics - three Epsom Derbies, four Epsom Oaks, four 1,000 Guineas and four 2,000 Guineas.
With his demons now firmly in the past, Fallon is continuing his road to redemption with an all-out assault on racing in the UK and will be heading to Newmarket when the Dubai season ends next month. He keeps himself busy and fit while in the UAE by playing squash and golf most days and rides out for various trainers at Meydan. And judging by his form following his comeback, Fallon is capable of challenging for the jockeys' title.
"After my comeback I rode more than 50 winners in just a couple of months," he said. "If I'd had that kind of form going on all year - during the whole summer - you are talking about the possibility of winning the championship. Confidence is a key to Fallon's success and this comes with regular race riding. "I need to race every day," he said. "Out here, two days a week isn't enough for me. I need to be riding winners every day and I need to be racing every day."
Fallon has been riding mainly for Cumani while in Dubai and he hopes the "gentlemen's agreement" that he rides the Italian trainer's horses when available will extend to cover the summer flat season in England. He also hopes he can keep rides on a few handy three-year-olds for other trainers. Cumani's filly, Seta, third in September's Group One May Hill Stakes at Doncaster, stands out, as does Coordinated Cut from Michael Bell's yard.
Another is Brian Meehan's Youm Jamil, still a maiden but with enough about him to impress Fallon when running second at Newmarket at the end of the season. "Hopefully I can get a classic horse," said Fallon. "Luca's got a classic filly in Seta and Coordinated Cut was a horse I won on last year. "He ran in the Racing Post Trophy but the ground was too soft. He's a definite Derby horse but needs the top of the ground.
"A dark horse is Youm Jamil. He's still a maiden but he's a big beautiful horse, he's the kind of horse that could be, you know, anything. "He gives me a good feeling. I'd love to keep the ride on him." firstname.lastname@example.org