09/02/2009 12:00AM

Fallon returns from nearly two-year absence


The beleaguered Kieren Fallon returns to action at Lingfield Park on Friday after 23 months on the sidelines. The 44-year-old Irishman has not ridden since partnering with Dylan Thomas to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 7, 2007, banned first by the British Horseracing Board as his trial for race fixing began. Exonerated from those charges when the case against him fell apart, he was immdeiately handed an 18-month suspension by the French racing authorities for a second cocaine positive.

Fallon, who has been working horses during the past year for a number of trainers at Newmarket, primarily Michael Stoute, will have four rides at the Lingfield Polytrack meeting. His first mount will be for trainer Amy Weaver in a one-mile maiden race, aboard the favored Rare Malt. An hour later he will be aboard another favorite, the Pat Morris-trained Roodee King in a five-furlong maiden.

After two more assignments at Lingfield, Fallon will drive 30 miles to ride at an evening meeting at Kempton Park. Among his three mounts on the Polytrack there will be Bugaku, a horse trained by Stoute, for whom Fallon rode regularly before joining Aidan O'Brien and Coolmore at Ballydoyle in 2005.

Six times the champion rider in Britain, Fallon was widely recognized as one of the best riders in the world before his downfall. He has won the Epsom Derby three times and the 2000 Guineas, 1000 Guineas, and English Oaks four times each. In Ireland he has won the Irish Derby twice and the Oaks three times. His big-race victories in France include two Arcs, a Grand Prix de Paris, and a Prix de l'Opera. He has also won Group 1 races in Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, Dubai, and Australia. In America he rode Islington to win the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf in 2003, won the same race with Ouija Board a year later, and took the Arlington Million on Powerscourt in 2005.

In addition to those mentioned, Fallon has ridden a legion of horses that rank among the best to set foot on a racecourse since he began his career in 1984, among them Alexandrova, Bosra Sham, Falbrav, Fantastic Light, George Washington, Holy Roman Emperor, Hurricane Run, Oratorio, and Yeats. Many of those were trained by O'Brien, but Coolmore will not be renewing its relationship with Fallon at this time. Stoute, however, and Luca Cumani have stated that they will not hesitate to employ him.

Fallon is expected to return to Group 1 competition on Saturday when he is scheduled to ride the William Haggas-trained High Standing, the likely favorite in the Haydock Park Sprint Cup. On Sunday he will be in Germany to ride the Michael Channon-trained Youmzain in the Grosser Preis von Baden.