Kieran Fallon details grueling process of "flipping" for jockeys and talks shyness

Former champion jockey chats to Joe

BY Raf Diallo 20:38 Monday 6 November 2017, 20:38 6 Nov 2017

If there's one area Kieran Fallon's autobiography Form highlights, it's the challenges jockeys face physically and otherwise.

The six-time former British champion jockey, two time Arc winner and Co Clare native joined Joe on the show to discuss the experiences detailed in the book. 

The relentless and obsession to succeed was all-consuming to the detriment of all those around him, pointing out that even on days when he rode winners, second placed finishes on the same day would be at the forefront of his mind.  

"I'm sitting there with a big, stupid face wondering, 'Have I done this or have I done that?' And they couldn't understand that and it was just eating away at me. But I don't know why or where it comes from. I still today don't know," said the 52 year old, adding that horses can sense when someone is going through a bad patch.

Fallon also discussed the arduous of cutting weight for races. Aside from wearing sweat suits, one way was to have the heat on full blast while driving to a racecourse, sweating out fluid.

"It was tough but your mental state got you there, got you through it and you could walk into the racecourse and all you'd do is go in, strip off and fallen under the cold shower and just sit there and sometimes you'd ask yourself, 'Why am I doing this?'" he said.  

Jockey Kieran Fallon in 2007 ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Another technique was "flipping" i.e. eating as much as possible and then vomiting it out.

"You'd say, 'What's the use of eating it if you're going to throw it up?' The satisfaction, your satisfying your mind," he said, before touching on the fact that it could take place outside of the more expected environment of a bathroom.

"You wouldn't want to use the toilet because obviously you don't want people coming in after you or whatever. There's a stigma to it and it was a way of life. It actually started in America. American jockeys started it because American weights [for jockeys] are much lighter than ours."  

He explained that the only definite toll it takes on those who do it is "if you don't brush your teeth straight away, you wear the enamel off your teeth".  

Fallon also contrasted it with bulimia, stating that "it's more about making the scale" than anything else and "enjoying your food as well". He also found that more comfortable than the sweat suit method.

Fallon also spoke about being able to bond with horses in particular he was due to ride, contrasting that with the difficulties of dealing with species of the homo sapien variety.

"Even any sort of animals, cats or dogs, I was always able to get close and then travelling the world and meeting the Queen, I might feel so uncomfortable and don't want to be there. But it was part of the job," he said, also adding that he felt "embarrassed" with the fame and attention that naturally came with success.

He also admitted that for example an upcoming book signing was something he was "dreading because I don't know what it's going to be like" and his general discomfort with the limelight that dates back to his career.

"If I'm talking about the horse I feel fine but talk about anything else, I feel strange," he said.

Fallon also touched on his changing relationship with alcohol and taking part in therapy at a point that would lead to a successful period on the racecourse, adding that a lot of what came previously in regards to the drink had "a lot to do with shyness"; he also talked about the effects the Fake Sheikh sting had on him.

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