Rising star of the weighing room Cieren Fallon has already given himself plenty to think about in 2020.
The 20-year-old son of six-time champion Kieren arrived back from a three-month stint in America – and since then, has claimed top honours in a one-off riding competition in Italy, chalked up his first winner back in Britain and changed agents.
While the delayed domestic Flat season is not set to start until May at the earliest, amid the escalating coronavirus outbreak, last season’s champion apprentice can look forward to a trip back to America later in the year – having impressed trainer Christophe Clement during his first visit.
Fallon said: “Going to America just helped me tighten up my riding a bit near the back-end of my claim. I had two rides out there, and finished second and third.
“The thing I learnt was riding to the clock and getting that in my head. We did a lot of gate work out there as well, which should help me be sharper away in sprints.
“I would be doing between six to eight lots every day, instead of three or four over here during a quiet time. It was pretty busy, but that is how I like to be.”
The association with Clement is one that is set to continue.
Fallon added: “We got on very well, and he has offered me a job out there again next winter – which is great.
“We both enjoyed each other’s company, and I learnt a lot from him.
“Next time I’m there, I will look to stay four or five months and not head back so early, along with getting more rides.”
No sooner had Fallon stepped foot back on home shores was he on the plane again – this time representing Great Britain in the Ribot Cup at Pisa, thanks to a little help from his boss, leading Newmarket trainer William Haggas.
He said: “I flew out to Italy last month to represent England in the Ribot Cup, which has apprentices from across the world.
“It was very interesting and nice to ride in Italy.
“It was a bit hard with the language barrier. But I managed to finish first, second and fourth in the three races – and win the whole thing.
“The opportunity was there to do it, and Mr Haggas thought I should take it. I was fortunate to ride some fancied horses.”
Before heading to Italy, Fallon made his first ride back in Britain a triumphant one when steering Vega’s Angel to success at Lingfield – a winner he hopes will be the first of many this season for Haggas.
He said: “We have had a really big chat about my future, and he is looking at having me on board a lot more this year.
“I only ended up riding one winner towards the apprentice title last year for him, but he was keen for me to try to gain experience and make other contacts.
“Mr Haggas would always ask me where I’m riding and tell me about the different tracks. He made sure he gave me the extra time I needed to get to places – which was a help physically and mentally, so I didn’t burn out.
“I’ve only ever worked for Mr Haggas, but he has brought me up like one of his own – and I hope I can now start riding lots of winners for him.”
He hopes to be in a position to successfully defend his apprentice crown and become the first rider since Gary Bardwell in 1987/88 to win the title in successive years.
That is not his primary goal this year, though.
Fallon added: “I’ve still got 27 winners left on the claim, and the big aim is to ride that out this year.
“If I could be champion apprentice again that would be a great achievement, because not many have done it, and to do it in this era when there are so many talented apprentices about would be great.
“As well as riding my claim out, I want to be at the big meetings with the big jockeys – and I want to be known for more than just being a 3lb claimer.”
Although he is yet to build up partnerships with established Group-race performers, there are two horses in particular he is looking forward to riding again.
He said: “Oxted from Roger Teal’s, who I won the Portland on, is the main horse I’m looking forward to this year. It is hard as an apprentice to secure big ride, but I should keep it on him.
“With Thanks, I rode to win on her debut last year, and she has an entry in the 1000 Guineas.
“I’ve sat on her two or three times this year. She is still small, but there is an engine in there, and it would be nice to get back on her.”
Achieving success on the track is in part down to having a good agent – and he has decided to join forces with Gavin Horne, the man who helped Oisin Murphy become champion jockey last year.
Fallon said: “I couldn’t really turn down the offer of having Gavin Horne as my agent, because he knows how to make a jockey a champion.
“Sitting behind Oisin, I hope I can pick up a few more rides – while he only has us two on his books, so he can really concentrate on us.
“I get on well with Oisin, and he helps me out – and Oisin’s hero is my father, so it all works really well.”