The Fallon Factor: “The thing I find difficult is trying to get my head around why he’s not favourite!”
The former Champion Jockey gives you the inside track ahead of this Saturday’s Coral Eclipse at Sandown
Group 1 races are rarely easy to win or to judge, but this year’s Coral-Eclipse is simple: Barney Roy will be too good for them.
The thing I find most difficult about the race is trying to get my head around why he’s not favourite! I can’t have Cliffs Of Moher and I can’t believe he’s leading the market for this race. To me he doesn’t look like a horse who wants a mile and a quarter as he seemed to need all of a mile and a half at Chester and Epsom. If anything, I thought he might go up in trip.
You’d have to be taking him on and it’s easy to do that anyway as Barney Roy should take a lot of beating. His main weapon is the fantastic turn of foot he has. If he brings that into play then he’ll be very hard to beat.
He never looked like stopping at the end of a mile in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot last time and I feel Ascot’s a stiffer track than Sandown as well. It’s a gentle climb from the bottom of the hill up to the finishing post at Sandown whereas Ascot’s a much stiffer climb from Swinley Bottom to the finish. They won’t be going around the bend at Sandown as fast as they do at Ascot, so that gives him the chance to fill his lungs up and get a second wind just to help him out a little more.
If you wanted one against him I’d be looking towards Eminent rather than Cliffs Of Moher or any of the older horses. Eminent never handled Epsom in the Derby and I’m honestly surprised they even went there with him – it was never going to be his sort of race.
I think the mile and a quarter around Sandown will suit him much better than the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket or Epsom and he’s a danger to Barney Roy. That said, I’m firmly on Barney Roy’s side.
I’d be surprised if the Coral-Eclipse wasn’t won by one of the three-year-olds. For example, I can’t have Ulysees. He’s not done anything wrong but he’s not as good as we all thought he’d be.
That’s how I view all the older horses in this race really – they’re good horses but there’s not a genuine Group 1 horse amongst them. That’s why you need to be looking at the three-year-olds in the race this year; they look well up to scratch.
Tactics around Sandown are always interesting and pace is important. If they go slow then they’ll still be quickening up that hill in the straight, but if they go too quick before then they’ll stop and you can close from the back. I’d have thought they’d be a good pace in this race to help Cliffs Of Moher.
I always thought the thing you really need is to be in a rhythm around there. You can’t just be sat out the back and expect to quicken by everything coming up the hill. As long as you can lengthen and start getting rolling between the three pole and two out then you can kick in that final bit and make your move. That’s where you want to be trying to win the race, not before or after.
I won the race twice on Medicean, who was an older horse, and Oratorio, who was a three-year-old. I really loved Oratorio and I enjoyed winning on him a lot. He was as tough as nails and beat a very good horse in Motivator. I think Johnny [Murtagh] probably kicked too soon that day on Motivator but I think I’d have caught him anyway!