Kieren & Cieren Fallon: Father and son on winning, riding and the future

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport
Kieren Fallon and Cieren Fallon
Former champion jockey Kieren Fallon with his son Cieren, the champion apprentice jockey
Qipco British Champions Day
Date: Saturday, 17 October Venue: Ascot Racecourse Race times: 13:20-16:15 BST
Coverage: Commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live

Six-time champion jockey Kieren Fallon says he admires the focus and work ethic of his son Cieren, who is forging his own successful racing career.

Fallon junior only started riding aged 18 and within three years has secured a Group One win and a big retainer.

On Saturday, he seeks more success on Oxted at Ascot's British Champions Day.

"He's very dedicated. I wish I'd the same mentality, I'd probably still be riding," says Kieren, 55, whose rollercoaster career ended in 2016.

Cieren, who grew up in Wigan with his mother Julie, was talented at several sports, including football, rugby league and athletics.

Then one day he looked at photos of his father winning big races and decided he wanted to follow suit.

He headed to the British Racing School, was supported by trainer William Haggas and has proved a natural, now on track to be champion apprentice jockey for the second year running.

"I had never really been interested in horse racing and never understood it," recalls Cieren, who rides the Roger Teal-trained July Cup winner Oxted in the Champions Sprint Stakes on Saturday.

"Riding a horse gave me a feeling I'd never had before and I'm learning all the time.

"I think I've got a very good work ethic. It's all about fitness, whether that's physical or mental."

Cieren Fallon has followed in his father's footsteps despite only riding horses for the first time when he was 18
Cieren Fallon has followed in his father's footsteps despite only riding horses for the first time when he was 18

Fallon and Fallon - compare and contrast

Punters nicknamed Fallon senior 'King Kieren'. He rode for top trainers including Sir Henry Cecil, Sir Michael Stoute and Aidan O'Brien, and won the Derby at Epsom three times.

He also served two bans after testing positive for cocaine and was dramatically cleared at the Old Bailey of race-fixing allegations.

"The way we were brought up it was rough and ready and tough," says Irishman Kieren.

"Cieren's had a good grounding, got good family around him. It all points in the right direction. He loves his horses as well, which is very important."

Kieren retired after suffering from depression but appears in upbeat mood as he talks about his son and riding out in Newmarket for trainer Ed Dunlop, for whom he won the Oaks with Ouija Board.

"It makes me smile in the morning when I go in there. You have to be in a yard where you have fun and enjoy it. For me it doesn't feel like work," he says.

Oxted winning the July Cup at Newmarket under Cieren Fallon
Cieren Fallon won the July Cup with Oxted at Newmarket - a track his father says is the hardest in the country to ride because of its undulations

'A job I couldn't turn down'

Cieren's ascendancy was confirmed in August when he was recruited by Qatar Racing on a two-year deal to be second rider behind champion jockey Oisin Murphy.

"It was a big surprise to me, I'm not going to lie. To be offered a job like this is incredible. I couldn't turn it down," he says.

With uncertainty over the immediate future of his friend and colleague Murphy, who awaits the result of a B sample after a positive test for cocaine - a drug he denies taking - there could be big opportunities to come.

But Fallon is ready to take a lesson from his father in winning when the odds are against him - Kieren's final Classic triumph came aboard 40-1 shot Night Of Thunder in the 2,000 Guineas six years ago.

"My dad won on horses that shouldn't have won on paper and I'm going to be riding in races where it appears I have no chance," says Cieren, who won on a 200-1 outsider earlier in the season and a 50-1 chance last week.

Kieren admits to worrying about his son before a big race, even though he never felt nervous when riding himself - a trait he seems to have passed on.

"That's the one thing about him. He doesn't panic, he takes everything in his stride and he thinks he can win on anything as well," he says.

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