Kieren Fallon, who cut short his recent riding stint in Florida, could be appearing more in American races following his decision Feb. 25 to sign up as retained jockey to owners John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith.
His main job will be to ride horses trained by Aidan O'Brien, Ireland's champion trainer, for the trio. Fallon succeeds Jamie Spencer who surprisingly left his post as first rider for Ballydoyle in early February. Tabor and Smith have had an increasing presence in the U.S.
Fallon, who was 40 on Tuesday and is six times champion jockey of Britain, returned to Ireland on Feb. 21 from Florida, where he had been based since after Christmas. He then traveled to Barbados where Magnier and Tabor were vacationing.
A short statement confirming his appointment was issued on Friday evening. Betting on Spencer's successor had been suspended, with Fallon the long odds-on favorite.
His appointment comes after intense speculation. A press release from Primus on behalf of Coolmore said: "Owners John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith are delighted to announce that Kieren Fallon will be the retained jockey for the horses at Ballydoyle and elsewhere for the 2005 season."
The announcement brings an end to his long partnership with Newmarket-based trainer Sir Michael Stoute, for whom he has been the main jockey since 1999. Fallon won the Epsom Derby (Eng-I) on Stoute's North Light last year, among other high-profile successes.
It is not yet clear whether Fallon can maintain his link with the Ed Dunlop-trained Ouija Board, winner of the 2004 English (Eng-I) and Irish Oaks (Ire-I) as well as the VO5 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT).
The jockey has never been far from controversy during his career and is still on bail from the City of London Police as they continue a long-running investigation into alleged race fixing.
Fallon, who has not been charged with any offense and has consistently proclaimed his innocence, is due to report back to the police in April.
He lost to Frankie Dettori, backed by the powerful Godolphin stable, for the jockeys' championship in Britain last year, but remains the top rider in the U.K. in the estimation of most observers.
O'Brien had just three group I successes in 2004, compared to nine in 2003, 19 in 2002 and 23 in 2001.