Fallon has shown great resilience in the face of adversity

SAY what you like about Kieren Fallon, but one thing that man possesses is balls.

Fallon has been to hell and back over many months and it really is anyone’s guess as to how he has managed to cope.

By his own admission, waiting to face criminal charges for conspiracy to defraud Betfair customers, has taken it’s toll.

We have all seen it on the racecourses of Ireland for a good while now. Fallon has often looked almost sad, as he struggled to go about his business in a profession which is savagely competitive and utterly unforgiving.

Facing any sort of criminal charges has to be well, terrifying. For Fallon, or any top-class sportsman, who has to work with the whole world watching then it has to be even worse than that.

There have been times this season when Fallon hasn’t ridden well. He knows it and so do his biggest fans, the punters.

That Fallon has been able to motivate himself at all to make the best of a bad job has been quite extraordinary.

His confidence has been affected, he’s on record as saying that himself. Riding domestically, and the odd day in France, is not what this man is about.

He’s a free-spirit, who needs to be able to travel to any part of this planet in order to feel he isn’t living a half-life.

Preventing Fallon from competing in Britain, missing days like the Epsom Derby and Royal Ascot, is a bit like telling the man to ride with one hand tied behind his back.

He has clearly missed the cut-and-thrust of taking on the best on foreign fields and that, together with a dark cloud constantly hanging over him, has meant that what the Kieren Fallon punters adore has, at least on occasions, been missing.

A perfect example is the Ballydoyle filly, Listen. Fallon didn’t give her a good drive when she went under by a neck to Campfire Glow in the Group 2 Debutante Stakes at the Curragh.

Nor was he seen to best advantage when Listen subsequently got going all too late when runner-up behind Saoirse Abu in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes, also at the Curragh.

You can be certain he is well aware of all of that, but there was to be no redemption and he had to stay at home when Listen went to Ascot for another Group 1.

We can only guess at how much frustration Fallon felt as he watched Johnny Murtagh guide her to a smooth success.

It was a feeling, though, which had become all to familiar to the jockey. During Royal Ascot, for instance, he could be seen in places like Leopardstown, Limerick and Down Royal.

When Dylan Thomas went to Ascot for the King George and to York for the Juddmonte, Fallon was left kicking his heels, reduced to the role of a somewhat bemused onlooker. And there were several other grim days as well. It had to be eating away him, had to make him angry and dispirited. The urge to say enough is enough must have been bordering on the overwhelming.

Ballydoyle, however, has stood four-square behind their pilot on the basis, one suspects, that he is innocent until proven guilty.

If they hadn’t there seems little doubt Fallon’s career would now be at an end. On Sunday at Longchamp that decision reaped a rich dividend.

Fallon was under almost unbearable pressure travelling to France. A bit like the Irish rugby team, he went on the back of a less than ideal, what an understatement, preparation.

But that’s where the comparison most emphatically ends. Cometh the hour, cometh the man and he was able to rise above it all and ride the most magical race.

If Youmzain had grabbed Dylan Thomas late, Fallon would have been accused of making his move too early.

If he had delayed his challenge longer and got the horse beaten, then the knives would have been plunged deep into gaping wounds as well.

But when the line was reached Dylan Thomas was in front by a head and it is that sort of timing which has made Fallon the genius he undoubtedly is.

Whether he’s set to become a seriously flawed genius only time will reveal.

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