Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
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Christophe Soumillon flaps in the air as Vadeni wins the Coral Eclipse before the horse then drifts onto the inside rail and hammers two rivals
Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
By Chris Cook, Senior Reporter
Christophe Soumillon has successfully appealed the 12-day suspension imposed for causing a disruption during the celebration of his Coral Eclipse victory on Vadeni. A disciplinary committee has decided to shorten it to eight days.
Soumillon will now be racing at Glorious Goodwood this month after his initial ban ruled him out of the first two days.
The Belgian rider spoke passionately in his own defense during a two-hour hearing on Thursday, openly accepting his mistake of letting Vadeni drift right after crossing the finish line, pinning both Native Trail and Lord North against the inside rail. But he asked for some sympathy for his actions, having just ridden the first French-trained horse since 1960 to win the Eclipse, in what he described as a champagne moment for him.
“If it was a normal race it will never happen, I will never celebrate like that,” he said. “When you’re a soccer player and you score in a World Cup final, you know you can’t take your shirt off. But someone just does it. It’s not normal, but sometimes the pressure just collapses. It’s like a champagne bottle, that’s what.” I feel when I pass the line.
“It was maybe a second, a second and a half that I wasn’t professional. But it wasn’t on purpose, I don’t think it was dangerous. Certainly it’s pretty impressive when you see the footage but both jockeys, both horses came back well.”
Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)
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Christophe Soumillon: “I think 86 or 87 jockeys will be suspended this year and unfortunately I’m at the top of the list.”
Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)
Soumillon, who presented his own case without the help of a lawyer or agent, had apparently done some research in trying to put his ban in context. “There’s a lot of racing every day in Britain,” he remarked. “I think 86 or 87 jockeys will be suspended this year and unfortunately I’m at the top of the list.
“I’m the most suspended jockey in Britain this season. So I’m a little bit sad about that and I’m kind of appealing because a lot of people talk about it and say it’s very harsh for someone who didn’t do it on purpose.
“There’s a lot of competition between Britain and France and we all know it’s going to be like that for life. And we love the sport. I didn’t come here to try to disturb anyone and do 90 percent of my job. I try 100 percent.”
Soumillon won some favor with the judges by promising not to celebrate like this again, adding: “Sure, something goes wrong after the line. You can understand and believe that I will never party like I do. I always learn from my lessons.
“I’ve raced in more than 20 countries around the world, I’ve won almost all of them and I never get a ban like that. The suspension is probably the hardest I’ve had in my entire career.”
“We have found significant remorse”
Speaking of the verdict, Panel Chairman James O’Mahony said: “In general M. Soumillon is of course a very respected rider and jockey and he addressed us with courtesy and realism to accept what he had done wrong and what we discovered significant regret.
“No one has argued that anyone should be punished for partying. It is a living sport and people find joy and pleasure in watching it. There is an emotional response involved, and as Leonard Cohen once said, joy has a habit of breaking through.
“But in this case there is a very significant safety risk. Irresponsible, careless riding endangers the health and safety of horse and rider. Luckily nobody fell and there were no injuries.”
He said Soumillon deserves credit for not denying he made a mistake and for checking with both horses’ trainers over the following days to make sure neither had been injured.
“Having someone face up to what they’ve done reduces the risk that such behavior will occur in the future,” O’Mahony said. He concluded that the sporting commissioners’ decision to suspend Soumillon for 12 days was “too strict”.
Soumillon: I’ll be careful next time
“This is great news,” said Soumillon as he drove from Deauville to Longchamp, where he will race on Thursday night.
“To be honest it won’t change a lot of things. But at the end of the day, I’m just happy to see that the judge didn’t think I was that bad at that moment.
“I made a mistake. It could have been a lot worse, but after all nobody gets hurt. I don’t want to give my sport a bad image and I don’t want to cause problems for my colleagues.”
Soumillon has a single ride in mind, which due to reduced suspension he is likely to get back aboard Lady Princess in the Qatar International Stakes, a prized race for Arabian horses on Day 2 of Glorious Goodwood. Lady Princess won first prize of £226,000 ridden by Oisin Murphy last year.
He made it clear that he would continue to celebrate important victories, but not lose himself in the moment to the same extent.
“I’ll be more careful next time. I always love to celebrate when I win a big race and that’s a part of me, when I cross the finish line I have to let some luck out of what I’m doing on the horse feel and sometimes the audience really likes it. But I’ll make sure next time it never happens like that.”
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FIRST PUBLICATION ON JULY 14, 2022 AT 12:33 PM
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