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How a chance encounter in Dubai led to the Holland-Fallon dream team

Darryll Holland monitoring proceedings on the gallops as Kieren Fallon rides out
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Former top jockeys Darryll Holland and Kieren Fallon have revealed that a chance encounter at Saeed bin Suroor's Dubai operation early last year led to their current partnership as trainer and assistant in Newmarket.

Holland and Fallon were talking to the Racing Post for a major interview in Sunday's newspaper in which they discussed the mechanics of their relationship, the issues of starting a new business in the age of Covid and how they plan on making it to the top all over again.

The pair had been fierce rivals in the saddle but admit they didn't know each other at all well at that time. However, that changed when Holland, recuperating from a broken ankle incurred in a fall in 2019, asked if he could do some work for Bin Suroor in Dubai.

"That's when I bumped into Kieren," he said. "We spent a good bit of time together in Dubai. At that stage I didn't know whether I could get back into the saddle. Kieren asked me what my plans were and I said I'd like to have one last hurrah, riding in Canada. I told him I'd probably start training after that, and I asked him whether he would come and help. He said he'd be delighted."

Darryll Holland had his first runner as a trainer last month

While you might expect those early conversations in Dubai to have been spent reminiscing about battles of the past, Fallon remembered that Holland required rather more hands-on help.

"When he started coming in to ride, he'd forgotten how to put the tack on a horse," said the six-time champion jockey. "He hadn't done that for a long time, whereas when I was working with Henry Cecil I was in the yard seven days a week, tacking up my own horse. I wanted to get to know the lads, the horses, what they ate, everything. Same when I worked with Stoutey [Sir Michael]."

Fallon, who also spends part of his days as a work-rider for different yards in Newmarket, is now happy to be taking on the role of assistant, adding: "I know I don't have many years left riding even though I feel as fit as a flea. Working with Darryll is a good idea. I would never train myself. Even when I was riding I hated going racing. The only place that wasn't too bad was at Newmarket because I'd go in through the back door. Didn't have to talk to anyone."

Read more from Darryll Holland and Kieren Fallon in The Big Read, available online for Members' Club Ultimate subscribers from 6pm on Saturday or in Sunday's Racing Post newspaper. Join Members' Club here.

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The Front Runner is our latest email newsletter available exclusively to Members' Club Ultimate subscribers. Chris Cook, a three-time Racing Reporter of the Year award winner, provides his take on the day's biggest stories and tips for the upcoming racing every morning from Monday to Friday


When he started coming in to ride, he'd forgotten how to put the tack on a horse
E.W. Terms