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Derby 2003: Piggott acknowledges Fallon as the new king of Epsom Downs.


IF further evidence was needed that Kieren Fallon has become the modern-day equivalent of Lester Piggott, it was confirmed by the great man himself yesterday.

Fallon's Derby victory with Kris Kin was in many ways a case of deja vu as the various factors that went into making Piggott an Epsom legend were replayed - down to the most important detail of being aboard the right horse when it really counted.

Firstly, trainers were clamouring for Fallon's services right up to the moment he opted for Kris Kin, a colt, although trained by Sir Michael Stoute, he was not compelled to ride, had never partnered in public, and deserted in preference for John Dunlop's Big Bad Bob in the Philip Leverhulme Dee Stakes at Chester last month.

Secondly, with punters unsure which way to turn, Kris Kin, thanks to Fallon, suddenly became the focus of a massive gamble from a morning price of 14-1, being sent off at 6-1.

Finally, just like Piggott, Fallon richly rewarded the faith placed in his judgement and, true to form, was on top of his game in the world's most famous race.

As Stoute said afterwards: "That was one of the greatest rides you will ever see at Epsom."

Although Piggott was quick to point out the physical differences between himself in his heyday and Fallon, he

acknowledged the Irishman has

established himself as the public

idol on Derby Day, just as he was

in winning the race nine times.

"Kieren is the champion jockey which is why all the trainers want him," said Piggott. "He is riding in great form at the moment, so obviously punters want to back him."

Piggott went on: "Although Kieren is associated with Sir Michael Stoute's stable, he is more or less free to ride what he wants.

"He didn't have to ride Kris Kin, he got off it at Chester, and I think this year's Derby was exceptional in that the public didn't really take to the favourites, they wanted something else, and that was why Kris Kin came down so much in price.

"The Derby, for many people, is the one race during the year in which they have a bet, and they will follow the jockeys. Now Kieren Fallon is the jockey they go for."

Asked if he sees anything of himself in Fallon, Piggott replied: "Not really. We are different physically, but he is very good and just keeps getting better."

Fallon's indomitable thirst for winners, another talent he shares with Piggott, was perfectly illustrated on the eve of the Derby when he stormed out of the Epsom stewards' room after collecting a one-day suspension for an interference offence.

The reason for his fury was that he will be forced to sit out next Sunday's action, when there are meetings at Carlisle, Leicester and Salisbury.

Onlookers were bemused by his reaction, but Piggott would surely have felt the same frustration and sense of grievance.
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Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 9, 2003
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