The sickening moment Belgian jockey ELBOWS a rival off his horse at 35mph sending him tumbling on to his neck… but stewards STILL allow him to race in Sunday’s £4m Arc de Triomphe
- Christope Soumillon pushed Rossa Ryan off his horse at Saint-Cloud
- A commentator compared it to ‘jumping out of a car sunroof at 35mph’
- Soumillon was immediately disqualified and handed a two-month ban
- It is believed the ban will start after he races in the Arc this weekend
Top jockey Christophe Soumillon issued a grovelling apology after being banned for two months for inexplicably elbowing Rossa Ryan during a race in France on Friday.
Miraculously, Ryan escaped unscathed despite turning head over heels like a rag doll after hitting the turf in the Prix Thomas Byron at Saint-Cloud but questions were raised as to whether the suspension imposed by France-Galop stewards was too lenient.
Belgium-born Soumillon, regarded as one of the greatest jockeys ever to ride in France and the retained jockey of the Aga Khan, also attempted to downplay his actions.
But what took place defied logical explanation, given his mount, Syros, and Ryan, who was on board Ralph Beckett-trained Captain Wierzba, were five furlongs from the finish with time to manoeuvre.
Interviewed on Sky Sports Racing after the race, Soumillon said: ‘I felt a little bit of pressure from Rossa on my outside while trying to keep a better position behind Ryan (Moore).
‘I was just behind Ryan at the time and I put my elbow against him just to make him understand I wasn’t going to the inside.
Rossa Ryan began to lose balance after being pushed by Christophe Soumillon mid-race
His fall was compared to ‘jumping out of a car sunroof at 35mph’ by a Sky commentator
‘Unfortunately when I asked my horse to stay there and go a little bit to the right I have pushed him for a stride or two and he fell off. Straight away I knew I made a mistake and I’m terribly sad about what happened because I hate to see stuff like this.
‘When you are doing that it is even more terrible, so I really want to apologise to everyone, all involved with the horse.
‘I have just seen the jockey and he is fine and I’m happy about that and the horse, too. As for all the people who love racing, it was not a nice act from my side and I’m terribly sorry.’ On his suspension, 10-time French champion jockey Soumillon added: ‘It’s a very big thing. Unfortunately my end of season is now gone but I accept the sentence for what I did and the terrible decision I made.’
Soumillon (right) has been banned from racing for two months following the shocking incident
The 60-day ban, which starts on October 14 and finishes on December 12, means Soumillon will miss several big international meetings this autumn but he is allowed to ride at this weekend’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe meeting at Longchamp, where his mounts include Vadeni in the feature race tomorrow.
The leniency of the ban was attacked by British-based jockey Neil Callan, who tweeted: ‘2 months is just ridiculous!! Shame on @francegalop stewards.’
While Newmarket trainer Charlie Fellowes tweeted: ‘2 month ban for that incident seems incredibly lenient to me. He has intentionally endangered a colleagues life!?’
Rossa (right) is thought to be uninjured after the fall but it could have been much worse
Ryan said he had got a bump and ‘lost his balance’ before adding he was grateful that his mount had emerged unscathed.
Beckett said he had received a call from Soumillon. He added: ‘He rang me to apologise. It’s difficult to be outraged when anyone apologises, so I’m not.’
Soumillon’s mount, trained by Francis-Henri Graffard, was disqualified by the stewards following the race, which was won Aidan O’Brien-trained Continuous, ridden by Moore.
It is the second time this season that Soumillon has issued a public apology. The first came after he veered across two horses when punching the air in jubilation as Vadeni won the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown in July.
Soumillon was hit with a 12-day ban which was reduced to eight days on an appeal.
Soumillon is facing calls to be banned for life following the shocking incident in France
Ryan was unhurt despite incident occurring when the jockeys were travelling at near 35mph