Soumillon’s Moment Of Madness

Watch the replay here

Christophe Soumillon has been banned for two months after an extraordinary and controversial incident in which he elbowed fellow jockey Rossa Ryan out of the saddle during a race at Saint-Cloud.

The Racing Post reports that Soumillon, who later apologised for his actions, was riding the Francis Graffard-trained Syros in the Group 3 Prix Thomas Bryon when, in the back straight, his elbow made contact with Ryan, who was riding the Ralph Beckett-trained Captain Wierzba.

pic of soumillion

Christophe Soumillon

The contact resulted in Ryan being unseated from his mount. Ryan walked away from the incident unscathed, while Soumillon was banned for 60 days.

However, the jockey will be able to ride Vadeni in Sunday’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (3.05) as the suspension starts on October 14 and ends on December 12.

Soumillon said: “It was a terrible thing that happened. I was riding my race as always and two of us wanted the same spot. I thought I was just easing Rossa over so I could stay behind Ryan [Moore]. Unfortunately on the very soft ground he became unbalanced and came off.

“That was the first surprise because I wondered what had happened. When I watched back the pictures, I could see clearly what had happened – that I had gone elbow to elbow with him, which unfortunately I should never have done.

“I made a mistake and I am upset for my owner and trainer as well as for his, because it has resulted in them both losing out. The worst of it is that when a jockey falls like that it could have been a lot worse for him.

“I’m reassured that he’s okay and when I saw he was unhurt I went and apologised straight away. That’s the best news of the day. It’s the kind of thing nobody wants to see in our sport.

“I totally understand the reaction of people who question what happened and feel it was totally unacceptable, so it is for me to suffer the consequences.”

‘That manoeuvre was a mistake’

Soumillon will miss big meetings including British Champions Day, the Breeders’ Cup and the Japan Cup, while his chance of winning the Cravache d’or – the French Flat jockeys’ championship – appears over. He is 21 winners behind Maxime Guyon.

Soumillon insisted the incident was not intentional.

“I have to serve two months of suspension, which is certainly a heavy punishment but nonetheless justified,” he added. “I have to accept things and I made an error. I should never have used my elbow to try to keep my position.

“That manoeuvre was a mistake and I regret it. I apologise to everybody, especially the connections of those two horses and anyone who was shocked by what they saw.

“Now, I have to stay very focused on what is the most important weekend of the year. I have to put things right again before sitting down on Monday or Tuesday and really reflecting on things, but this weekend I have to stay in my bubble and do my best.”

Ryan told the Racing Post: “I just got a bump and lost my balance. It’s just one of those things that happens. I feel disappointed for Ralph and his team bringing him out here, but we’ll move on.

“The horse is fine, I’m fine. That’s the main thing. I’m 100 per cent.”

Syros, who finished second past the post, was disqualified.

Watch the incident:

Former jockey Andrew Thornton, who was working for Sky Sports Racing at Hexham, was highly critical of Soumillon’s actions.

He said: “When you come off at the speed and land on your feet, that’s when you go and break a leg. It’s like jumping out of a car doing 35mph.”

The Group 3 was won by the Aidan O’Brien-trained Continuous, who was cut to 20-1 (from 33) for next year’s Derby by Coral following his success.


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