Wigan jockey Cieren Fallon Jnr claimed the 2019 Champion Apprentice title on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot Racecourse at the weekend.
An achievement that is all the more remarkable given he only sat on a racehorse two years ago, having shown no interest in racing in his younger years.
Fallon Jnr, son of six-time champion jockey Kieren Fallon, wasn’t initially interested in following in his father’s footsteps.
His early sporting success was playing for either football for Shevington FC or rugby league for Shevington Sharks.
But he was crowned 2019 Champion Apprentice after his 50th winner of the season at Southwell last week moved him eight winners clear of Sean Davis in second place.
The 20-year-old joins some of racing’s most famous names including Frankie Dettori, Ryan Moore and this year’s champion jockey, Oisin Murphy, in becoming Champion Apprentice.
He will, however, be going one better than his father, who had to settle for second place in the Irish Apprentice Championship in 1987.
“Some fantastic jockeys have been Champion Apprentice,” he said. “So to follow in their footsteps is the best moment of my career so far.”
Among his wins this season, Fallon Jnr has enjoyed success at the Qatar Goodwood Festival with victory aboard the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Gifts of Gold in the Qatar Apprentice Handicap.
He also secured two big Saturday triumphs live on ITV, winning the William Hill Portland Handicap with Oxted on the final day of the William St Leger Festival at Doncaster in August, and securing the Betfair Exchange Old Borough Cup at Haydock Park with Time To Study in September.
It capped a month which Fallon Jnr was also named Jockey of the Month after an impressive 16 victories.
Earning over £765,000 in prize money throughout the season, Fallon Jnr’s top performing tracks have been Brighton and Windsor, securing six victories at each.
His most successful trainer partnership has been with George Baker – the pair have enjoyed seven wins.
Fallon Jnr now lives at William Haggas’ yard in Newmarket, having joined the trainer after completing his exams at the British Racing School.
It is a relationship he credits with being the making of his riding career
He said: “Mr Haggas looked after me really well from the start. Everything I have done has been with his help and he is the one who has got me to the stage I am at now.”
Dad Kieren, whose illustrious career saw him win a remarkable 47 Group 1 races in Great Britain, is thrilled with his son’s progress.
He said: “As a father, I’m pleasantly surprised and proud of what Cieren has achieved.
“I say surprised because it was never the goal at the start of the season, but he has put in the groundwork.”