Fallon Freezing?

Mon, May 24, 2010

Betting News

Fallon Freezing?

No accusations of after timing please! At the start of this flat season I said on a number of occasions that odds of 7/2 second favourite about Kieren Fallon for the flat jockeys title were ridiculous. Even I thought he might do a bit better than he has been though. What’s going wrong?

A couple of news snippets in recent days suggest that all is not well in camp Kieren. His long term agent Dave Pollington has been told his services will no longer be required. Aidan O’Brien, having thrown Fallon a ride in the first classic of the season, did not require his services at the Curragh despite running six horses in the Irish 2000 Guineas. 

Maybe a change of agent will freshen things up for Fallon but there’s precious little evidence out on the track that the Fallon fire is still burning bright.

I’ve often argued that to be considered a genuine contender for the top jock honours a rider needs to be nudging 20% winners to runners as a strike rate. Throughout his glory days that’s exactly what Fallon used to do. His average prior to 2006 is consistently coming out at around 19% winners on the turf. In his pomp, only Dettori could compete in terms of strike rate.

His strike rate this term has plummeted though to around 13% winners. Not only is that way short of what’s required to win a championship, it’s dramatically different to what he’s shown himself capable of in the past. It’s a strike rate that would be very respectable for very many jockeys, as it represents a rider who is well above average but no better than a very large number of his peers.

Has Fallon lost a little of his magic? Has he simply not been getting on the right horses? Can he turn the corner? It would be strange indeed if a man whose whole career has been characterised by fireworks of various kinds were to exit with a whimper rather than a bang but maybe that’s a possibility now. Maybe we’re witnessing the fizzling out of a meteoric talent. Then again, maybe he’s about to light the blue touch paper and give his rivals a rocket once again. Going to be a pivotal season this for this most troubled and talented rider.

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18 Responses to “Fallon Freezing?”

  1. ken cambs Says:

    The frailties of being both a perfectionist and human, I fear Sean. Whereas the majority of people are content and comfortable with operating in the middle lane of survival there are those amongst us who, for a variety of enigmatic reasons, feel driven to be the best at what we do and believe that anything less is failure.
    Whatever mental baggage or self-loathing Fallon brought into his racing career was bound to be a constant double-edged sword that would influence his rise to the top as well as his fall from grace. Within his personality is the knowledge that he cannot function properly on a diet of mediocrity and yet he can no longer hide behind that thin veil of delusion behind which he was able to hide his imperfections from his once-adoring public. The game is up. Deep down he knows that no matter how much he tries he will never ever achieve that zenith that he once enjoyed. Certainly he can continue to go through the motions and earn a modicum of riding success but even so that will not be sufficient to quell the inner-demons.
    The guy needs a brand new challenge, not as a jockey though. He would probably be best considering starting a whole new chapter in his life, possibly as a trainer. But first and foremost he needs to come to terms with himself and realise that sometimes it’s still quite a good life just being yourself and not hooked on the highs and lows. It doesn’t have to be all black and white. The grey area can be just as interesting and certainly less fraught.

  2. coldironsbound Says:

    As a relative newcomer to racing (about 4 years ago) i’d been looking forward to seeing Fallon this year as of course he’s been absent for most of the time i’ve followed racing. I’ve mostly been impressed by him, i think his lower strike rate is simply down to not being on the best horses were he still riding for the likes Stoute or O’Brien i’m sure he’d still be around the 20% mark.

  3. Patrick Says:

    “Maybe we’re witnessing the fizzling out of a meteoric talent”

    METEORIC TALENT!, are we not going a little over the top Sean, meteoric my backside!.
    Here we have a relative nobody who was struggling big time in his native Ireland because nobody seem to notice this so called meteoric talent that he’s suppose to possess?, moves to England to join Jimmy Fitzgerald as his career had virtually reached a dead end in Ireland, ploys his trade as a relative journeyman for a few years, gets a job with the Ramsdens lands a few high profile gambles and this journeyman suddenly gets noticed, incidently messed up many a Ramsden gamble at Pontefract because the tactic of the rail run didn’t always bear fruit unless you have moses like powers to part the wall of horses in front of you.

    Moves to Henry Cecil now into his thirties, most of the other great champion jockeys of the past and present already had numerous jockey tiles in the bag by the time they had reached thirty, Fallon enjoyed plenty of big race success with Henry after initial teething problems but riding good horses makes it so much easier, as luck would have it after the seedy parting of the way with Henry, his arch nemesis Michael Stoute just so happened to be on the look out for a stable jockey Kieran once again landed in a bucket of shite and came out smelling of roses got the job with Stoute’s during one of his most successful periods of his career, then alas Jamie Spencer is no longer required by team Coolmore, Fallons four leaf clover works its magic once again and he lands the lucrative Coolmore job.
    Now of course the Fallon worshippers will say he must be doing something right to be called upon by these high profile trainers, yes his strength in the saddle was by far the biggest factor altough grossly exaggerated by a whip action that is questionable as to whether its within the rules of racing because it seems to come down more often than not above shoulder height and Fallon also transgresses the rule by using his whip regulary down the neck in the forehand position, so in effect he is gaining unfair adavantage over other jockeys who remain within the rules, but the authorities never seem to pull him up over it??.
    There can be noway on earth that Fallon was employed for his unique horsemanship as his ability for a high profile jockey to get horses unbalanced when in the drive position has no equal!, his ungainly style and his difficulty or refusal to pull the whip through has many of his rides doing a tour of the racetrack from one side to the other not to mention the regular squeezing up of rivals as he continues to allow his horse to drift onto the rail knowing full well that the British interference rule favours the perpetrators.

    Fallon like Aiden O’Brien is a media driven myth hyped up way above their actual ability, rich owners make good trainers and good horses damn well make good jockeys.
    I noticed Willie Mullins had an awful Punchestown festival because the meteoric Ruby was out injured?.
    Humans are only the bit players in this sport the horses the major players somebody would want to remind the sycophantic media and the fawning public this.
    19% strike rate hardly makes anyone Meteoric now does it?

  4. seanboyce Says:

    19% and over is extraordinarily tough to achieve and maintain Patrick and you can count on the fingers of one hand the jockeys that have been able to do it over the past decade or so. If you can find a jockey riding high numbers of horses that can beat 19%, let us know because I’d want to back them for the jockeys’ title.
    We all have our different preferences as regards style but his effectiveness over a number of seasons is a matter of record rather than opinion. Media hype didn’t win him titles. His strike rate stands up to scrutiny regardless of whether you cross reference via handicap vs conditions, black type vs lower grade, sellers, claimers, for main stable or outside rides.
    (I only know this as I once spent far too many hours going through Fallon vs Dettori to try and split them in terms of measurable effectivenss and you couldn’t get a fag paper between their records at their peaks!).
    You’re right of course regarding the steady supply of top notch ammunition but it’s not always the defining factor. McCoy does not generally ride the highest quality NH horses during a season. He doesn’t get regular rides from Nicholls, or Henderson, or King, or Hobbs, or Mullins but he still beats the field a distance in terms of total winners each season. Fallon’s record is not on a par with McCoy but at his peak he had only one or two peers. I know that Dettori has complained of Fallon’s absence during his lengthy spells out as he feels there are so few top jockeys around to compete with.
    Rich owners don’t always make good trainers. Sheikh Mo still had a few quid last time I looked and poor old bin Suroor would struggle to train a white mouse to eat cheese on current form! Good horses making good jockeys well yes and no for the reasons I’ve already mentioned. One things for sure though jockeys lacking fitness, or confidence, or whatever can certainly get good horses beat.
    We’ll have to agree to differ on Fallon’s previous status. I think he was rightly lauded as one of the top couple of jockeys around at his peak. What is clear now is that there are a large number of jockeys at least as effective as him. By the way, if you don’t think that Cecil, Stoute and O’Brien all retained him for his ability. Why did they hire him?

  5. R Hills is God Says:

    Fallon and Dettori? The only ones comparable on strike rate? Who are these guys? I had to look them up.

    Here’s the scores on the doors for the past two turf seasons:

    2010: Richard Hills 18% Dettori 17% Fallon 14%
    2009: Richard Hills 24% Dettori 21% Fallon 15%

  6. seanboyce Says:

    R hills,
    You are of course absolutely correct that Richard Hills strike rate over many seasons bears the closest examination and gives the lie to his many critics’ claims about him. He is consistently amongst the top handful of jockeys on strike rate. I referred in teh above piece to when ‘Fallon was in his pomp’. Dettori too was making a bit of an effort in those days. Times have changed since then but Richard Hills, keeps on rolling and keeps on ticking over a high percentage of winners. I’m not sure he is the one true god but he’s certainly a British racing deity.

  7. Graeme Says:

    Fallon didn’t freeze at Ayr. In fact he was hot with a 4 timer !!! I’ve only saw Fallon since his return, and he strikes me as somebody who still has what it takes at the highest level. To win big races you need the big horses though. If i had a decent sized bet on something, he’s one of the first jockeys i’d want on board.

  8. seanboyce Says:

    He was on fire! I’m claiming 10% as I’m sure it was my piece that fired him up.

  9. Patrick Says:

    Sean, you only make your comparison as regards Fallon and Dettori, I have checked out Pat Eddery down as far as the Racing Post statistics allow 1988, who by any mans standards was/is a far superior horseman than Fallon ever was or ever will be!, his balance in the saddle was on another planet to Fallon’s and he also possessed Fallons main attribute strength in the saddle and a brilliant racing brain, although Pat had one fault imo he was sometimes guilty of trying to scrape paint too much emulating his hero Lester by going the shortest way up the rail, which sometimes worked, and sometimes failed spectaculary.
    I’d say even Fallon himself must be laughing to himself at some of the way over the top accolades that has been spouted out about him from the blinkered media.

    Eddery Champion Jockey:
    1996 21%
    1993 21%
    1991 20%
    1990 23%
    1989 20%
    1988 21%
    Also champion 1974,75,76,77 & 1986.
    R/up:
    1994 19%, Dettori was champion that year with 17%
    1992 24%, Roberts was champion that year with 20%,
    Also runner up on numerous other occasions.

    Statistics that are actually superior to both Fallon’s and Dettori’s albeit not by much, but all these percentages tell me is that top jockeys win by average on one in five of their mounts hardly makes them out to be meteoric?, and most of the time they actually show a healthy loss to the £ stake at the end of the season, brings us back to if the horse can run faster than the others it will invariably win regardless who is on their back!.

  10. seanboyce Says:

    Wouldn’t disagree with you putting Eddery ahead and the stats certainly back you up Patrick.
    The point I was trying to make really is how much worse his current performance is now than at his peak. The question I was asking was is this the end for him? I think you and I are going to disagree a little about his quality. I obviously rate him more highly than you do, although I’m not one of those who think he’s the best ever. Personally I rate Dettori higher than Fallon but I’m a big fan of style and grace as well as effectiveness! We’ll all have a different idea of who the best riders are but the fact is that Fallon is a former champion who many people expected to be a real force for the jockeys title (Ladbrokes cut his odds back down to just 5/1 to be top jock after his 4 timer the otehr day). I argued at the start of the season such expectations were wildly optimistic and that it was crazy to make him 2nd fav behind Ryan Moore, so you and I are probably not so far apart in some ways.
    The latest story regarding his not getting the ride on Ted Spread and Tompkins’ comment that they had trouble getting hold of him (we’ve heard that before recently during Dubai?), also gives me further cause for concern. I’ll be amazed if he’s anywhere near competing for the title.

  11. Patrick Says:

    Agree Fallon represented awful value to reclaim the jockeys title after his forced sojourn, can’t help feeling this article was an I told you so! for a very vocal colleague in the booth who to be honest never shut up about Fallon been a shoe in for the jockeys title the minute he set foot back on a racecourse on sept 4th last year.

  12. seanboyce Says:

    No not quite Patrick! Wasn’t aware that either of my booth colleagues were that bullish about Fallon’s prospects but certainly it got plenty of column inches etc as a possibility which was daft. I’m also genuinely interested to see how things go for him from now on. He might surprise me yet, I was certainly very surprised to see him get a Guineas ride for Ballydole, so there may be more twists and turns in this one yet.

  13. chattersmatters Says:

    Sean,

    Don’t think you need to worry just yet about anyone accusing you of aftertiming, after all Fallon is just 3/1 with the Tote for the title at the moment, is anything really going wrong with him at the moment?
    Don’t you think you’ve been a tad premature with your comments about Fallon, he seems to have struck form since?
    In any case only 2 months into the season is a bit early to take a view and we should wait till the end of the flat season in November.

  14. seanboyce Says:

    Hi chatters, thanks for posting and welcome aboard.
    A week is a long time in racing! He’s had a good week alright but his overall performance level is well short of what is required to challenge for a title.
    We could wait until the end of November but then I really would be guilty of after timing! No, I just thought it’s an interesting topic as the consensus in some quarters seems to be that he’s a live title challenger, and as you say the odds reflect that, but I don’t see the evidence that supports such a view. Time will tell of course and I may be proved completely wrong.

  15. R Hills is God Says:

    It’s a sign of how far Fallon has fallen that putting his name on the racecard will get you a price, before he then gets lost in traffic and has to be replaced.

    He used to be the one taking over from these disoriented jocks!

  16. Santiburi Says:

    That will be the Fallon who is second in the stats for the last 14 days and who has just ridden the first at Salisbury today for yet another outside yard? I’d imagine that outside of maybe 5 other senior jocks, the vast majority would choose to have Fallon on one of their charges. He’d certainly be in my all time top 10 and might even be in the top 5……. now there’s a question, top 5 current jocks: senior and apprentices?

  17. Santiburi Says:

    The primary factor for the following picks was: who would I pick to ride a horse I owned?
    Senior jocks: Callan, Fallon, Baker, Mullen and Hayley Turner.
    Apprentices: I Brennan, K Fox, D Swift, G Bartley and Rosie Jessop.

  18. seanboyce Says:

    he’d be in my top 5 too Santiburi but I’m only seeing flashes of the old Fallon and I fear that he’ll still find some hot water to jump into at some point. Might be wrong.
    I’d currently choose from
    Dettori, Baker, Crowley, Buick and Probert.
    I’ve done a little piece for the site now on some of the stats for the top guys.

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