A decision is due to be issued at 9am, seven hours before Flat racing’s most prestigious contest, with a day of courtroom drama yesterday overshadowing the Queen’s Carlton House being declared fit to run.
As Fallon went to the post in yesterday’s Oaks – he was a close second on Wonder of Wonders – the High Court had cleared him to keep the mount on Aidan O’Brien’s Recital after allegedly reneging upon a previous commitment to ride Ed Dunlop’s grey Native Khan.
But the horse’s aggrieved owner Ibrahim Araci then mounted a last-ditch appeal that will be settled by the legal equivalent of a stewards’ inquiry.
If Araci prevails, Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien – who is seeking his first Derby triumph since 2002 – will have to seek a new rider for Recital, a horse that came to prominence by winning the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes last month with Fallon in the saddle.
In his High Court judgment, Mr Justice MacDuff conceded that the three-time Derby-winning jockey had acted with “deliberate selfishness”.
However, he said there were a number of factors to be taken into account, including the bets staked on Recital since Fallon’s booking was confirmed last weekend.
He added that his sympathy towards Native Khan’s owner was “tempered to some significant extent by the good news that he has been able to engage a replacement jockey (Johnny Murtagh) who is also a champion at the top of his profession”.
However, Araci claimed that Fallon had broken a “promise” to ride Native Khan and, under the terms of an agreement, should be prevented from riding another horse in the race.
Fallon denied breach of contract and said there had been an “innocent misunderstanding” because the horse had, at one stage, been due to run in tomorrow’s French Derby.
Meanwhile Carlton House’s trainer Sir Michael Stoute said he was “relieved” the horse had responded to treatment following a gallops setback.
“Everything is back on track, he’s done some nice work,” he told the Yorkshire Post in an exclusive interview.