Cieren Fallon is making a name for himself after getting on board with Qatar Racing

CIEREN FALLON junior is the first to admit that it is an advantage to have one of the most famous surnames in Flat racing – his legendary father Kieren was a six-times champion jockey.

This was Cieren Fallon juinor winning the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Oxted for Roger Teal.

Yet he is also mature enough to realise that this counts for nothing if he does not take advantage of his opportunities and justify the faith bestowed upon him.

It is this desire to prove himself as a top rider that saw him named as second rider at Sheikh Fahad’s Qatar Racing operation behind Oisin Murphy, Flat’s reigning champion.

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The timing was serendipitous – it came shortly after Fallon, the reigning champion apprentice, rode out his ‘claim’ which means that he now competes with the world’s best jockeys as an equal.

Cieren Fallon at the races at Newmarket with his father Kieren, the six-times champion jockey.

He has already proved that he has the race-riding skills and temperament needed – he was not permitted to use his claim when he won the Group One Darley July Cup at Newmarket on the Roger Teal-trained Oxted.

A coming of age ride and win for the 21-year-old, it confirmed Fallon’s promises and caught the eye of the Qatar team who were on the lookout for a ‘second’ rider after jockeys were limited to one meeting a day.

Yet Fallon did not know what to expect when Yorkshire-born trainer William Haggas asked him into his office. He thought it was discuss the transition to senior status in the weighing room. Instead, it was the Qatar deal.

“It means a hell of a lot to me,” he told The Yorkshire Post in an exclusive interview. “It is every young jockey’s dream to ride for owners as big as Qatar Racing who have Group One winners.

Oxted and Cieren Fallon surge clear to win the Darley July Cup.

“Oisin Murphy is champion jockey and this season’s leading rider while Kevin Darley, a former champion, is a key part of the team. It’s a fantastic opportunity that will only improve me as a person and as a rider.”

It is that last comment which explains why Fallon junior differs to his enigmatic father, whose great gifts in the saddle, nurtured by the late trainer Jimmy Fitzgerald in Malton, were matched by a certain waywardness.

He was not born to ride – despite the childhood photo of him riding a rocking horse with a certain panache while his father watched on.

Fallon’s parents split when he was young and he grew up, with his two sisters, in Wigan – hardly a horse racing hotbed – with their mother Julie.

Frankie Dettori (right) was among those looking on as Cieren Fallon was crowned champion apprentice last October.

He went to boarding school in Wales to help with his dyslexia – he says he had little awareness of when his father was riding in big races – and praises his mother for insisting that he completed his education, and then college studies in personal fitness, “because you always need a back-up in life”.

Only then did Fallon decide to follow his father’s footsteps and his rise is all the more remarkable because he only had his first rides, and winners, two years ago.

He credits his early success to “taking opportunities” – a recurring theme in our conversation – and a support network like no other.

He likens Haggas to a “father figure” who has advised him on all aspects of being a jockey as well as the trainer’s wife Maureen for her support in all aspects of life.

“My twin sister Brittany now drives me to the races to make sure I have enough sleep to perform on my stage,” he says.

“My father just gives me loads of information on riding, tracks and horses. And my mother is my biggest supporter and number one fan.

“Now I’ve got the Qatar team who have been successful because they’re like a family, all looking out for each other.”

Yet Fallon says it is up to him to take his career to the next level. “You have to take these opportunities,” he says.

He does so while still glowing about his breakthrough win at the highest level on Oxted. “It meant a lot to me,” he added. “It meant a lot to my family.

“It was also a massive relief to get a Group One on the board – I’m still shaking while talking about it. It’s obviously helped me at an important stage of my career. It’s all about getting those opportunities and making sure you’re on the right type of horse in these big races.”

And taking them.