x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Christophe Soumillon to fight Britain's whip rule

The Belgium rider wants a universal law, stating "How can you change your riding style from country to country"?

Christophe Soumillon gets animated with ATR's Mike Cattermole after being given a five day ban for a whipping offence and losing prize money after riding Cirrus Des Aigles to win The Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot racecourse.
Christophe Soumillon gets animated with ATR's Mike Cattermole after being given a five day ban for a whipping offence and losing prize money after riding Cirrus Des Aigles to win The Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot racecourse.

LONDON // Christophe Soumillon says he will take the British Horseracing Authority to court over loss of earnings after he was found to have violated the controversial new whip laws at Ascot on Saturday.

Soumillon won the Champion Stakes aboard Cirrus Des Aigles, but contrary to regulations which were introduced in England last Monday, he hit his mount six times inside the final furlong, which measures 200 metres.

The rules stipulate that a jockey can strike his mount seven times during a race and only five times inside the last furlong.

The Belgian-born rider, who has an agreement with Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa during the UAE racing season, was banned for five days.

He also lost his riding fee and his share of the prize money, which amounts to more than £55,000 (Dh319,500).

"I will take a good lawyer to this because what has happened is completely unbelievable," Soumillon said. "The rules they have made will not be accepted in a European court or anywhere else in the world."

There were 13 advertising hoardings on the far side of the track in the finishing straight at Ascot. One hoarding was placed around 20 metres from the final furlong pole and another was directly alongside the marker for the final half a furlong.

Soumillon believed that So You Think was going exceptionally well just over a furlong from the finish. Cirrus Des Aigles then came up to challenge and ran out the final furlong in 12.43 seconds.

"I tried to count but I couldn't. You can't do everything. You can't look for the marker, look for the horses, count the times you use the whip and ride a finish," he said.

"I was just besides So You Think, one of the tallest horses plus the jockey, and I couldn't see the marker. Have you seen one sportsman make such a little mistake in any sport around the world and get a fine like that? I never saw Zinedine Zidane get a fine like this, or Michael Schumacher in Formula One." Soumillon has accumulated Group 1 victories in eight different countries and was racing in Canada last night. The 30 year old called for regulation to the whip rules around the world.

"We need a real understanding everywhere," he said. "How can you change your riding style from country to country? They don't in other sports - in rugby the rules are the same worldwide."

Paul Roy, the chairman of the BHA, issued a defence of his organisation and revealed that a discussion over the new ruling would take place tomorrow.

"Christophe walked into that weighing room before the race and he knew the rules. He knew he had five hits inside the final furlong and he hit six times," he said.

"We have a regular board meeting of the BHA and have the PJA [Professional Jockeys Association] to talk about the practicality of everything. Nobody disagrees that it was right to bring in changes. We are only a week in to these new laws and we have some serious quirks here and we are going to sort it out."

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