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Champion Jockey prevented from riding in the Epsom Derby by the Court of Appeal

Date: 05/06/2011

Towards the beginning of last week Patrick Lawrence QC and Can Yeginsu were instructed by the owners of the horse NATIVE KHAN, a leading fancy for Saturday’s Epsom Derby, to seek an interim injunction against 3-times derby-winning jockey Kieren Fallon to prevent Mr Fallon from riding a rival horse, RECITAL, in the Derby. The Derby is the most important race in the English flat racing season. Mr Fallon instructed Graeme McPherson QC to resist the Application.

The case arose from an alleged refusal by Mr Fallon to honour a commitment that he had made to the owners of NATIVE KHAN at the beginning of the racing season to ride NATIVE KHAN when engaged to do so by them, and also not to ride any horse in a race against NATIVE KHAN. Although the owners accepted that they could not compel Mr Fallon to ride NATIVE KHAN in the Derby against his wishes, they objected to his decision (taken a matter of days before the Derby) to ride RECITAL instead. They therefore sought an interim injunction to restrain him from doing so.

The Application was issued late last Wednesday evening and, following a fully-argued hearing on Thursday afternoon, Mr Justice Macduff gave judgment on Friday morning, refusing the injunction. The matter was then re-argued before the Court of Appeal (Jackson LJ and Elias LJ) on Friday evening and, given the urgency of the subject-matter, the Court of Appeal took the exceptional step of giving judgment on Saturday morning, a matter of hours before the race itself.

Lord Justice Jackson, in giving the leading judgment of the Court of Appeal, overturned the first instance decision and granted the injunction sought by NATIVE KHAN’s owners. His Lordship paid tribute to the advocates of both parties for the ‘excellence of their oral and written submissions’ and paid tribute to the way in which the Application had been fought given the incredibly tight time constraints within which the parties had been forced to operate.

The case was extensively reported during last week in not only the Racing press, but also by the mainstream media.

For a copy of the Court of Appeal’s judgment, please click here.

For an article on the decision, by Nick Broomfield, please click here.