Christophe Soumillon: Leading French jockey loses contract with Aga Khan after elbowing Rossa Ryan off horse

Christophe Soumillon has had his retainer with Aga Khan ended with
immediate effect after elbowing fellow jockey Rossa Ryan off his horse last Friday at Saint-Cloud.

The Belgian, who has been champion jockey in France 10 times and has won major races all over the world, has had a controversial summer.

He first picked up a lengthy ban when winning the Eclipse at Sandown on Vadeni, allowing his mount to drift to his right shortly after the line in celebration, narrowly avoiding a major incident.

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Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports Racing, jockey Christophe Soumillon admitted to making a ‘terrible mistake’ after elbowing Rossa Ryan out of the saddle, earning the French rider a two-month ban.

Then on Friday at Saint-Cloud, Soumillon moved to his right mid-race in the Prix Thomas Bryon, sticking out an elbow, which forced Rossa Ryan on Ralph Beckett’s Captain Wierzba to be unseated in a horror incident.

Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports Racing in the immediate aftermath of the race, Soumillon said: “I received a little bit of pressure from Rossa on my outside as I tried to keep a better position behind Ryan [Moore, on Continuous].

“I put my elbow against him just to make him understand I wasn’t going to the inside. Straight away I knew I made a mistake and I’m terribly sad with what happened because I hate seeing stuff like this.

“I really want to apologise to everyone. I’m happy Rossa is fine but this was not a nice act on my side and I’m terribly sorry.”

Soumillon was given a 60-day suspension by the France-Galop stewards but the fact the ban did not kick in immediately angered many and he was allowed to take his high-profile mounts on Arc weekend, and he went on to finish second in the big race itself on Vadeni.

A statement issued on social media by the Aga Khan Studs read: “Following last Friday’s incident at Saint-Cloud, which resulted in the fall of Rossa Ryan, the Aga Khan Studs have taken the decision to cease their retainer with Christophe Soumillon with immediate effect.

“From this week onwards, Soumillon may still ride in the Aga Khan silks on occasion at the discretion of the French trainers and the Aga Khan Studs team.

“At this stage, there is no intention to retain a jockey in France for the foreseeable future.

“Christophe Soumillon was the Aga Khan’s retained rider in France from 2002 to 2009 and from 2014 to 2022.”

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