Christophe Soumillon hit with 60-day ban for elbowing Rossa Ryan off saddle

Soumillon was riding Syros in the Prix Thomas Bryon Jockey Club de Turquie

Christophe Soumillon begins Arc weekend on board Dermot Weld’s Duke De Sessa but having inflicted a large blot on his stellar career.

French racing’s most famous jockey got a 60-day ban at Saint-Cloud on Friday for elbowing Irishman Rossa Ryan out of the saddle during a Group 3 race won by Aidan O’Brien’s Continuous.

Ryan luckily emerged unscathed from the disgraceful incident and the Saint-Cloud stewards handed Soumillon a suspension for dangerous riding that will keep the Belgian star out of action until mid-December.

However, the ban starts in a fortnight and Soumillon will be able to ride at this weekend’s Arc programme, including on Vadeni in Sunday’s big race.


Famous for his fiery temperament, Soumillon apologised for his actions and insisted he didn’t intend to dislodge Ryan.

“Straight away, I knew, I’d made a mistake. I’m terribly sad with what happened because I hate seeing stuff like this and when you are doing that it’s even more terrible, so I want to apologise to everyone, not just only one person who owns the horse or trains the horse or even the jockey,” he said.

“I didn’t do it on purpose to make him fall off his horse. I was just trying to keep my position. But with the ground ... I probably did with a little power. It was a misjudgement from my side,” Soumillon added.

That a two-month ban can be regarded as lenient in the circumstances testifies to the recklessness of Soumillon’s actions.

It puts him firmly in the spotlight ahead of French racing’s biggest dates of the year with Saturday’s action beginning with the Group 2 Prix Chaudenay where Soumillon rides Duke De Sessa for Weld.

Duke De Sessa won at Leopardstown over Irish Champions Weekend and steps up in trip for his latest assignment.

Weld’s Group 1 focus on Saturday will be at Newmarket where Homeless Songs bids to regain winning form in the Royal Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes.

A brilliant winner of the Irish 1,000 Guineas in May, Homeless Songs could finish only fourth on her return to action in the Matron Stakes over Irish Champions Weekend.

She renews rivalry with last year’s Sun Chariot winner Saffron Beach who was runner up at Leopardstown.

On a busy domestic weekend programme, Tipperary hosts its traditional mixed card on Sunday the flat feature is the Group 3 Coomore Concorde Stakes.

Soft ground conditions could aid the 2020 winner Current Option in a repeat bid.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column