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Friday, December 07, 2007


Short post this morning as I try to wade my way through 13 races carded for the last day of racing on Sunday.
The post time for racing on Saturday and Sunday is 12:40 (30 minutes earlier than usual) and on Sunday, harness racing post time has been moved later - to 8 p.m. - to accomodate our giant card (tee hee).

Notes from yesterday to come but STUNNING STAG ran a 96 Beyer Figure in his allowance win yesterday for Janice and Sid Attard - wow.
JOVIAL JILL was an impressive debut winner for Peter Dewit and partner B. Cowan. The Bold Executive 2yo ran a 62 Beyer Figure but won big with a long, smooth stride.

The suggestions for HPI TV offered by commenters in recent posts are good (yes, when they switch back to the host during the day, DON'T TURN OFF THE TICKER!!)..
HPI wants us to know that a cool year in review show can be seen during the Christmas holidays so check the station for details.


Jockey Fallon's rollercoaster ride
ProfileThe UpsThe Downs

By Cornelius Lysaght
BBC racing correspondent

Kieren Fallon's rise from humble roots in Ireland to recognition as perhaps the greatest jockey on the globe has been one of sport's - let alone racing's - most remarkable stories. Pure box office.

His acquittal in the race-fixing trial at the Old Bailey is the latest chapter.

The 'uneducated' (his description) plasterer's son from County Clare, who had once balanced precariously on the back of the family's pony, came to define brains, confidence and precision in the saddle of thoroughbreds the world over.

His CV positively overflowed, in the caricatured manner of champagne flutes at Royal Ascot.

Quietly spoken he may be, but Fallon positively shrieked his domination, with six champion jockey titles in Britain and seasonal scores of 200-plus winners four times, totals that included victory in three Epsom Derbys.

hether it be in Classic or international races, working for champion trainers like Henry Cecil and Sir Michael Stoute, or the lowliest prize at Catterick, Fallon was the man to do the business.

He earned the nickname 'the assassin' by getting the job done quickly, quietly and effectively, and then going on his way.

Dark, serious and brooding, with the suspicion of a scar on his face, he even looked the part, the very opposite of bubbly arch rival Frankie Dettori.

"It's outwitting the other bastards (jockeys) that gives you the buzz," he once said.

It seemed that with a rare brilliance in the saddle, wealth and fame, he had everything, but there was always another side to Kieren Fallon.

Even the Irish rider's most ardent fans had to concede that within their man's make-up was also an uncommon talent for finding trouble - all kinds of trouble - though none of it related to his appearance in court 12 at the Old Bailey.

There was the six-month ban imposed for furiously dragging another jockey from his horse at Beverley, and a £400 fine that followed a swearing tirade against an official at Pontefract.

Those were just two headline grabbers sandwiched between literally dozens of other 'bad boy' incidents: the assassin didn't miss many important targets but was always in danger of exploding himself.

In reflective mood, some years later, he said: "I was young and wild. When things didn't go right for me, I got annoyed.

"I have mellowed. When I was a kid, I didn't know what I was about and I had no regard for authority, but I learnt to bottle it up."

In truth, Fallon had been forced to grow up.

In 1998, amidst plenty of gossip and rumour - the meat and drink of horse racing - the jockey won a high-profile libel action against the now defunct Sporting Life newspaper over accusations about his controversial riding of a horse called Top Cees at Newmarket.

And a year later, Fallon, then married to ex-jockey Julie Bowker, became a star of the nation's gossip columns.

At Glorious Goodwood that summer, he was sensationally sacked by Henry Cecil after an alleged affair between the trainer's wife, Natalie, and an unidentified jockey.

For weeks after the announcement - I will never forget the sense of stunned amazement when the news broke - tongues wagged. Fallon always strenuously denied any involvement.

He soon moved on to work for another big-name trainer, Michael Stoute, before ultimately joining John Magnier's magnificent Irish-based Coolmore racing and bloodstock empire.

However, with a career path that swung violently from silky smooth to extra bumpy, highs of almost celestial proportions would always be punctuated by deep lows, including a career-threatening shoulder injury, drink problems and later a failed cocaine test.

Enough there for Hollywood? You would have thought so, but then came the knock on the door from City of London police investigating alleged race-fixing.

The big question now is will Fallon bounce back?

The answer is that he's had to before, and has always managed it - spectacularly.

This will probably be the hardest return, at the age of 42 and having been suspended from riding in the UK for the last 18 months, but it would be folly to bet against him succeeding.

And come the Guineas races or Derby day or Royal Ascot, screenwriters everywhere had better be ready for the next instalment.


  • At 1:11 PM, Blogger the_drake said…


    I know that the split station won't ever happen or that Graded Stakes races will never take precedence over Woobine. But one can dream. I find it so frustrating to see horses in the gate for a grade 1 at Del Mar, then all of a sudden the screen switches over to a car driving down the track with horses following it with buggies behind them, not good for my hypertension.
    I guess I see the models used with HRTV and TVG and feel that racing can be made so much more fun and insightful for the fans and those potential fans or investors in the game. Hearing a pun after every race, not so much.
    As for making picks every publication you read has them the in house show has them I think its's fine to make them. The US channels even go more in depth and have their talent put up pick 4's at the major tracks and pick 6's, it gives the viewer a little more interaction and it's even better when you hit a leg that the talent gets knocked out in.

  • At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Time for me to throw in my 2 cents on this. First of all, for the most part HPI's main channel does what it was meant to do, show ALL the races scheduled. Sure, some may be on tape delay by a couple of minutes, but you see them all. With no ESPN legally available in Canada, we miss out on all that NTRA coverage of the major Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup prep races so HPI is your only hope to see them. Secondly, one complaint I had in previous years was finally fixed - HPI finally stopped showing that lengthy Windsor Raceway intro sequence. It would often come on just as a Grade 1 stakes race from California was going to post, and then after 2 minutes of obnoxious loud theme music and blondes in front of the slot machines, the HPI host would take his/her sweet time going through the changes of the 15-race Windsor card. This was VERY annoying indeed and I'm glad someone listened. They figured out that, maybe, more people care about a Grade 1 in California than a bunch of cheap trotters at Windsor. And I have to wonder, was there more or less money bet through HPI on Cal Expo and Fraser Downs than on the Melbourne Cup and Japan Cup? Two of the most prestigious races in the WORLD were interrupted by cheap claimers at two minor league trotting tracks.

    With most HPI bettors betting by Internet now anyway (where you can see the odds before you click your bet in), and more importantly, with almost all bets common-pool with the host track, there really isn't a need for a separate "odds" channel anymore; the odds channel was needed when all our simulcast bets were separate pool and this was the only way to get to see the Canadian pool odds and payoffs. To make better use of his almost wasted channel, HPI really should consider having all Thoroughbreds on HPI1 and all Harness on HPI2. This way fans of each sport don't have to keep bitching that the other is being favored (and if your cable/satellite provider allows it, you can just pay for the one you want) and it would make room for more daytime Harness races and night-time Thoroughbred races to be aired.


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