Soumillon keeps a tight eye on the arc storm

Star jockey Christophe Soumillon held his own on Saturday, although French racing authorities said they preferred not to race at their most prestigious meeting, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The 41-year-old Belgian, who lives in France, was handed a 60-day ban on Friday – starting October 14 – for elbowing fellow jockey Rossa Ryan, which caused him to fall at a meeting in St Cloud .

Racing rules in France dictate that any suspension begins 14 days after the offense is committed, allowing Soumillon to bid for a third Arc win on Sunday at the Aga Khan-owned Vadeni.

Saturday’s race at Longchamp ended on a high for Soumillon after he won the Prix Daniel Wildenstein on the Erevann of Aga Khan.

However, the Aga’s daughter, Princess Zahra, made her displeasure at what had happened clear.

“Obviously it was an irresponsible and unthinkable thing to happen and do. It was very difficult to watch,” she said.

“We did talk about it (the incident), of course, but it was too close to this weekend to do anything.”

When asked if Soumillon’s contract could be in jeopardy, she replied: “It’s certainly too early for me to say, we’re still digesting it and haven’t had a chance to sit down yet.”

France Galop CEO Olivier Delloye said their hands were tied by the rules.

“We can’t be happy about what happened yesterday and we’re not happy about the bad publicity it brought to racing, but we can only work with the rules that are in place,” he said at Longchamp on Saturday.

David Redvers, a co-owner of Malavath, who Soumillon will ride in Sunday’s Prix de la Foret, said he was a “wonderful jockey” but he should retire.

Soumillon had apologized on Friday but kept his own advice on Saturday.

“I don’t talk about it anymore. I said what I had to say yesterday,” said Soumillon.

Soumillon spoke about favorite Duke de Sessa in the opening race of the Prix Chaudenay after third place.

The opinion in the jockeys’ room was not very favourable.

“Nobody wants that to happen,” said Tom Marquand after driving Sea La Rosa to win the Group One Prix Royallieu.

“I’m sure Christophe is sorry about what happened.”

When asked how the atmosphere in the jockeys’ room was, he replied: “You can imagine.”

– ‘Overwhelmed by Emotions’ –

It was an emotional win for Sea La Rosa owner Christopher Tsui, who also owned Sea The Stars, winner of the Arc 2009, and whose father David Urban owned Sea, the winner of the 1993 renewal.

“There’s really a lot of emotion swirling around me,” Tsui said.

“I vividly remember that moment almost 30 years ago, when I was a child, accompanying my father to the Arc.

“Then there was Sea the Stars. It’s been almost three years since I was here due to Covid-19.

“The journey wasn’t easy because there were no flights from Hong Kong, so it was a very long journey. It was worth it, I’m overwhelmed by emotions.”

While the debate over Soumillon’s place in the Arc raged on, the debate over Melbourne Cup winner Verry Elleegant not running in the Arc appeared to have settled in favor of France Galop.

Verry Elleegant’s trainer, Francis-Henri Graffard, had scathingly spoken out about not being rated well enough for the race.

However, it was France Galop who seemed to have made the right choice as she did not fire and finished seventh in the Prix Royallieu.

There was no debate at all about the other race in Group One, the Prix du Cadran.

Kyprios cemented his reputation as the best stayer in Europe by running away with the competition and giving a double to Ryan Moore on the day.

However, he caused some needless moments of nervousness as he drifted across the track to the grandstand side.

“I think he thought the race was over and wanted to ramp up,” said trainer Aiden O’Brien. “He just got lazy.”


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