Irish Jockeys Association - Kieren Fallon has taken a huge step in seeking help

Kieren Fallon talking to fellow jockeys Frankie Dettori (centre) and Phillip Robinson (left) at Kempton

Kieren Fallon talking to fellow jockeys Frankie Dettori (centre) and Phillip Robinson (left) at Kempton

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The Irish Jockeys Association stressed the need for vigilance in helping to combat depression in horseracing following the retirement of Kieren Fallon.

County Clare-born Fallon, 51, is seeking medical assistance in his homeland after he was diagnosed with acute depression.

Irish Turf Club chief medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick spoke on behalf of Fallon in announcing the end of his riding career, and said the six-times British champion jockey has had the illness for “the best part of three years”, but that it had gone unnoticed when he was riding in England and in America.

McGoldrick also commissioned a survey last year which revealed nearly half of the jockeys riding in Ireland had symptoms of depression.

Andrew Coonan, secretary of the IJA, insists there is still more that can be done to help tackle such an emotive subject in racing.

He said: “This is a difficult phase in Kieren’s life, but I am really pleased that he’s been able to come out and make the first steps in confronting the issue.

“I don’t think he will regard this as a sad day. There are obviously the regrets of walking away from an outstanding, glittering career, but he has taken a huge step forward in seeking help and support.

“It also makes us all reflect on the fact the issues of depression and mental health are significantly higher in racing than in the general population.

“That is something which is very much food for thought for all of us in the area of racing administration and welfare.

“It is good to talk, of course, but, more importantly, everyone in racing in Ireland needs to know that help is out there.

“There is no situation that cannot be dealt with, and no situation that cannot be discussed and alleviated.

“But we can never be complacent. There is no structure in place that can’t be improved upon, so we must continue to try to provide support to everyone in racing - riders, former riders, trainers and stable staff - who need it.”