Kieren Fallon seemed to have the horse race all sewn up: he was 10 lengths ahead of second favorite Ballinger Ridge with less than half the distance to go in the March 2 betdirect.co.uk Median Auction Maiden Stakes. Then, to the astonishment of the punters at Lingfield Park, the six-time British champion jockey glanced over his shoulder and appeared to ease up and the 8-11 favorite Rye passed him on the line. What had happened? The Sunday tabloid News of the World published a story alleging Fallon had predicted to its undercover reporters that his horse would lose the race and that Rye would win. The paper also alleged that there had been "unusual betting patterns" on the race. Fallon denied the implication that he had thrown the race, but amid a public outcry the Jockey Club barred him from racing for 21 days and announced an investigation into "suspicious betting patterns."
Only days later, the same punishment was dished out to jockey Sean Fox after he parted company with his horse, Ice Saint, in spectacular fashion in a four-horse steeplechase. Ice Saint's price had drifted from 5-2 to 4-1 amid strong rumors that several gamblers on Internet betting exchanges had wagered heavily on the horse losing.
The rise of Internet betting troubles racing authorities, who understand the dangers of corruption in a sport whose raison d'être
Racing's Rubber Match
Was that a fat lady singing on the podium after the very first Grand Prix of the Formula One season? You might have thought so, given the stunned looks on the faces of the drivers who got blown out by Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello's one-two finish for Team Ferrari on March 7. But with 17 races left in the season, there's still hope for mere mortals, and this weekend in Sepang there'll be a major difference in the racing: the weather.
Where Melbourne was cool, Malaysia will be steamy, and that will make a big difference in a crucial area the tires. The engine, chassis and ability of the driver account for three-quarters of a car's performance, but vital fractions of a second can be won or lost where the rubber meets the road. That's why teams and tire companies try to give their cars better grip by spending thousands of hours testing the way various rubber compounds react as they heat up during a race. Bridgestone tires used by Ferrari perform well in cool and wet conditions, while Michelins, which are driven by their main rivals, Williams, McLaren and Renault, really come into their own as the mercury soars.
Schumacher, aiming for his seventh world championship, won't be idling in the slow lane. But his opponents are spinning furiously. Patrick Head, technical director of Williams, says: "The Michelins' exterior broke up quite a lot in Australia , but that wasn't the whole reason for finishing behind Ferrari. I'd be very disappointed if we didn't do a lot better in Malaysia , but we need to get our act together pretty quickly."