Born in County Clare, in the west of Ireland, Kieren Francis Fallon was the most prolific jockey riding in Britain in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Between 1988 and 2016, he rode 2,578 domestic winners, placing him eleventh in the all-time list of the most successful jockeys, numerically, in the history of British horse racing. Indeed, Fallon was Champion Jockey for six of the seven seasons between 1997 and 2003 and may, in fact, have spent an unbroken seven-year spell at the top of the jockeys’ table were it not for a career-threatening should injury sustained during a fall at Royal Ascot in 2000, which left him sidelined for six months.
Unsurprisingly, Fallon won his first jockeys’ title in 1997, the year in which he was appointed stable jockey to Henry Cecil at Warren Place, Newmarket. Fallon won the 1,000 Guineas on Sleepytime, the Oaks on Reams Of Verse, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on Bosra Sham and the Sussex Stakes on Ali-Royal, all trained by Cecil, as well as the Cheveley Park Stakes on Embassy, trained by David Loder, and finished the season with 202 winners.
The Cecil-Fallon partnership continued, with no little success, until July, 1999, when Cecil sacked Fallon for “personal reasons”, Fallon sued for breach of contract and the pair settled out of court. Even so, Fallon retained his title in 1998 and 1999, with 204 and 202 winners, respectively. Highlights included Dr. Fong in the St. James’s Palace Stakes and Catchascatchcan in the Yorkshire Oaks in 1998 and Wince in the 1,000 Guineas, Ramruna in the Oaks and Oath in the Derby in 1999.
After his dismissal from Warren Place, Fallon rode as freelance jockey before, in 2000, before taking what he described as one of ‘only two jobs worth having [outside Godolphin]’, that of stable jockey to Sir Michael Stoute. Having taken some time to recover full fitness, Fallon was riding as well as ever in 2001 and, despite missing the ride on Derby favourite Golan, on whom he had already won the 2,000 Guineas, he was Champion Jockey again, with 166 winners. However, just a week before winning his fourth jockeys’ title, Fallon was sacked by Stoute after several of his leading patrons, notably Lord Carnarvon and Lord Weinstock, objected to him riding their horses.
Nevertheless, Fallon maintained a close association with Stoute, who was responsible for most of his major wins in the next two seasons. In 2002, he rode 149 winners, including Golan in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Islington in the Nassau Stakes and the Yorkshire Oaks, to win the jockeys’ title for a fifth time. In 2003, he rode 221 winners – the highest seasonal aggregate of his career – including a notable treble on Russian Rhythm in the 1,000 Guineas, the Coronation Stakes and the Nassau Stakes, his third Derby win, on Kris Kin, and a repeat performance by Islington in the Yorkshire Oaks, to become Champion Jockey for the sixth, and final, time.