The Fallon Factor: “You can’t beat a horse that loves to win and he’s got that attitude”
The former Champion Jockey gives you the inside track on day two of Royal Ascot
I was looking back at the Prince of Wales’s Stakes the other day and I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since Bosra Sham and I won the race. It certainly doesn’t feel like that long ago. It’s a day that really sticks out in my memory, probably because she was so brilliant. She was built like a colt and it’s just a pity she had bad feet. She only had half a hoof yet was still able to do everything she did. They’re aren’t many horses like her.
She was incredibly special. I loved her attitude and she was such a good ride as well. The Prince of Wales’s Stakes is the biggest race of the day, but it’s fascinating to see the great French trainer Andre Fabre having a couple of runners as well.
I rode for him a handful of times and Hurricane Run would’ve been the best I rode for him. He’s an absolute gentleman and, like Aidan O’Brien, there’s something about him when he’s around his horses. He has a real aura about him and is as good as they come when it comes to training horses. He’s a man of very few words but when he speaks everyone listens.
I’ve always liked Dream Castle. He needs some cover to be at his best, so Josephine Gordon will have to get him tucked in. I’ve never ridden him but I’ve led him in some of his work and he’s always shown us plenty. Coming back a furlong in trip from the 2,000 Guineas and coming to this track will really suit him. I’d be disappointed if he didn’t win. It’s great for Josephine Gordon to get the chance to ride him. She’s right up there with the best and she does very little wrong. She doesn’t get carried away with herself like some riders do and I like that about her. She’s definitely going to do well.
I’ve ridden a lot of work for Wesley Ward and all of his horses are very well behaved. The work he does at the gates is incredible and the European horses can’t keep up with his – they’re out of the gate and gone. They stay running as well, which makes them tough to catch. Stalls work is a big part of US racing. They are held against the front of the gate and basically thrown out by the stalls handlers. The start’s so important in America and if you break slow from the gates then you won’t get any rides. They repeat and repeat stalls work in their training and it gives them a huge advantage when they come over. As a result, Happy Like A Fool will be very hard to beat. If there’s one that could catch her, then it might be Heartache.
John Gosden rates Laugh Aloud as his best prospect of the week. If he says that then you have to listen. He’s a very clever man and puts a lot of thought into the horses and their races. He always goes through the race with you but doesn’t tie you down; if things change in a race you have the flexibility to go with Plan B. I like that.
Highland Reel’s a horse I’ve got a lot of time for. He’s as tough as nails and he loves a battle. You can’t beat a horse that loves to win and he’s got that attitude. They really fight for the line and stick their heads out all the way to get in front. When I won the King George on Golan in 2002 I beat Richard Hills on Nayef. All the way up the straight Nayef kept poking his head in front but Golan kept coming back and kept coming back. He wanted it, and Highland Reel is the same.
In a lot of these big-field races they tend to come up the middle and I think that lessens the art of race-riding. It’s great for punters as it should be fairer, but if I was riding something near the front I’d want to take them across to one side and make it tough for those in behind and bunch them up. Anyway, on to this year’s race and you need a very talented horse to win this race. El Vip and Fastnet Tempest are considered to be Group horses running in a handicap. Either of those two can easily win.
Gymnaste is the place to start in this race and has an obvious chance. However, don’t forget Really Special. She’s a very good filly and has been training excellently since she came back from Dubai. I rode her work last week and she went really well. She can race keenly so she’ll need to get settled, but I couldn’t be happier with what she’s doing at home.