Kieren Fallon has announced his retirement from the saddle at the age of 51 as a consequence of struggles with his mental health. The six-times champion jockey, who has taken no rides over the past week, asked the Irish Turf Club’s chief medical officer, Dr Adrian McGoldrick, to break the news on his behalf.
“Kieren is suffering from severe depression,” McGoldrick said in quotes reported by the Racing Post. “When he came to me before getting his licence to ride this year, it was clear he was suffering from depression and I treated him with anti-depressants.
“He told me that he hadn’t intended to make a comeback but decided to do so having been encouraged by Michael [O’Callaghan]. But he rang me last week and said his situation had got worse. I met him and on Sunday he told me he didn’t feel strong enough to speak to anyone in the media about his situation and asked me to speak on his behalf.
“He told me that he has lost the motivation to continue his riding career and wanted people to know about his decision to retire. He said it was time to move on once his depression has been managed.
“In recent years, he found himself suffering from profound fatigue but nothing physically wrong was found when doctors examined him.”
Fallon has previously spoken about his depression. In a 2008 interview, he told of how it had affected him in the wake of his trial at the Old Bailey the previous year, when race-fixing charges against him were eventually dismissed.
“When you’re depressed, you don’t want to get out of bed, you don’t want to face people, you don’t want to do anything,” he said. “Depression’s a terrible thing, so it is. And the longer you leave it, the worse it gets.”
At his best, Fallon seemed close to unbeatable and the unorthodox driving style that made him easy to spot in a race produced many a decisive surge from his mounts. From 1997 to 2003, he was champion six years out of seven, failing only when a fall at Royal Ascot in 2000 put him on the sidelines for months.
Three Derby wins, aboard Oath, Kris Kin and North Light, were among his 16 British Classic wins. His many significant successes in other countries included the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2007 on Dylan Thomas, the day before his Old Bailey trial began.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010