2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A STORY STILL BEING WRITTEN,
"Kieren is the most unbelievable jockey that we have ever dealt with. He is an absolute master of his craft. We go back over the records - we keep records - and he senses things that other people don't. So instead of condemning him, we should be celebrating him, not, like a lot of geniuses are, when they are dead and gone for twenty years." Aidan O'Brien
Andrew Longmore is a talented man whose work I usually greatly enjoy. Reading this it is obvious that he researched his subject well taking the trouble to contact many people and visit where Kieren was born and grew up. In the preface Andrew states that this is the first draft of Kieren Fallon's life, that there will be rewrites, revisions, and in time Fallon's own version. He did not ask for Kieren's help in compiling this, and that is a real shame. In a way he is then admitting that he is aware that this book does not quite cover it - something far too vital is missing. One feels that the end is not yet upon us.
If you do not know the story then this is a useful and accurate book. You will find the determined young man who was born without much except undying belief in his own destiny. Who escaped the near poverty of his birth in Ireland. Defied his lack of education or racing background to rise to the dizzying heights of Champion Jockey, winning 15 classics and working for the best of the best. The comeback from the terrible fall at Ascot, scandal, fights, drink, drugs, and worse of all the brushes with the law which has brought about the current end to his riding career.
Perhaps we are asking too much of the author, it is not likely that the vision, the genius, the incredible strength, torment and self destruction all wrapped up in this one person could be explained. We are allowed only glimpses of a secret Kieren not often exposed in the press. He has a reading problem similar to dyslexia, he is a good cook and he inspires fierce loyalty in his real friends. He is a complex character.
Kieren Fallon has an equal amount of admirers and detractors. Even few of the detractors are willing to deny his brilliance in the saddle but some relished his fall from grace seeing it as just punishment for the way he appeared to continuously bite the hand that fed him. There are those who are jealous and feel that he did not deserve so much good luck, since he created much of his bad luck himself.
So what is it that Kieren Fallon is really guilty of? This book does not tell you, nor can it. We must accept that none of us may ever really know the whole truth about Kieren Fallon.
With all of his faults and troubles what is it about Kieren that makes him worth reading about? A little bit of this can be found shimmering throughout this book, bubbling just under the surface, like an untapped resource. Conversations with the master of Ballydoyle, Aidan O'Brien are the most revealing moments we have here.
Reading this makes me wish that I had written this book. A few years ago Kieren Fallon rode a 2 year old filly for us. Big lean and undeveloped he gave her the careful ride that young fillies require, just enough guidance to put them in the frame and not to put them off racing. He never touched her with the whip, she quickened perfectly for him and when fate struck and another jockey and horse came across her stopping her being placed he not only protected her from harm as best he could but he also carefully explained the whole race to us. We are small owners and yet each time he saw us on the racetrack after that he remembered us. If he can come back and if we have another horse in training we would jump at the chance for him to ride without hesitation.
Finest hour? So very many back across the years. Early days with Cecil's fabulous fillies, his care of the old horse Top Cees, breaking the parade for Oath, knowing how to get the best out of King's Best, obtaining a Derby for Kris Kin, his relationship with Russian Rhythm, appreciating the individuality of George Washington. All golden moments but I think for me it has to be The Arc on Dylan Thomas. Rumour has it that he once told someone that you should always ride as if you have a demon on your tail. On that day unbeknownst to us all, he really did. Despite knowing that his own career was likely to be over he could still give that horse the opportunity to fulfil his destiny and be wreathed in smiles, truly grateful for that victory. Whatever happens in the future I will always remember Kieren Fallon and Dylan Thomas on that day.
Read this book, but don't judge him just yet - this story is still being written. Watch the old videos and if you get the chance, when he returns, go racing and see a master in action.
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Initial post: 1 Aug 2008 15:29:12 BDT
Last edited by the author on 6 Aug 2008 10:13:59 BDT
This is an excellent review which shows true understanding of this much maligned man. Kieren Fallon, like so many geniuses, has feet of clay and he will be the first to admit it. Unlike many flat jockeys, he treats horses with great respect; whether he wins or loses he does it graciously in public. We do not see tantrums or public rudeness and he is polite to members of the public. The one thing about Longmore's book is that it does highlight some of the things I have been told by those who have been touched by Fallon- the small acts of kindness, the consideration, the way stable staff are always included, etc. My father was an excellent horseman and sportsman who taught me the importance of both and that's why I particularly appreciate Kieren Fallon. I think he has been treated badly by the media, so quick to judge him, and the authorities who continue to hold things over his head. I too remember Kieren winning on Dyland Thomas and think how difficult that 14 months ban must have been on him watching the horses he should ride being ridden by others. I hope he gets his act together, gets the support he needs from the Jockeys Association and others and comes back to ride many more winners. He is so exciting to watch.
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