Cieren Fallon insists he is not feeling the pressure of replacing three-time champion jockey Oisin Murphy as Qatar Racing’s number one rider.
The 23-year-old will take over as Qatar Racing’s number one rider during Murphy’s 14-month suspension, but the champion jockey will remain on the team during his absence.
Rising star Fallon was appointed understudy to three-time champion Murphy for Sheikh Fahad’s organisation in August 2020.
On Tuesday, an independent judicial panel ruled that Murphy will be ineligible to reapply for his riding licence until February 16, 2023 after admitting to Covid-19 regulation breaches and failing two on-track breath tests.
The panel also imposed a fine of £31,111 after he admitted to misleading the British Horseracing Authority, contravening coronavirus protocols and acting in a manner prejudicial to the sport’s reputation.
Sheikh Fahad has now handed the son of six-time British champion jockey Kieren Fallon the top job.
Speaking to Sky Sports Racing this afternoon, Fallon insisted he is not feeling the pressure of taking the role while Murphy is on the sidelines.
“It’s a big opportunity and I just need to prove myself,” Fallon told Simon Mapletoft at Southwell. “I wouldn’t say it’s make or break but it’s definitely a big step for my career.
“Please God it can hopefully be onwards and upwards from now on.
“It’s a big step forward from being second jockey to first jockey but I’ve had two Group Ones and a Group One at Royal Ascot so I don’t really feel the pressure.”
Fallon will also have the help of Murphy if required, with the champion jockey still remaining firmly in the set-up at Qatar Racing.
“It’s a big opportunity for me and I’ve got to take it with both hands,” he said. “Obviously it comes with a bit of pressure but I’ve been with Qatar for a number of years and I’ve ridden plenty of winners.
“I know how the system works. Sheikh Fahad and David Redvers [racing manager] have got plenty of belief in me and that’s a big feather in my cap.
“They’ve got all the confidence in the world to back me and it means a lot for them to put me in this sort of position.
“Look, Oisin is going to be there with me supporting me, helping me with anything I need and is only a phone call away.
“He’s going in galloping Qatar horses as well so he’s still a big player and part of the team.”