The British Horseracing Authority does an about-face and will return prize money to Christophe Soumillon after amending its whip rules.
Whip rule change with Soumillon case
Christophe Soumillon will be refunded the prize-money that was withheld from him after the Champion Stakes following the British Horseracing Authority's (BHA) decision to amend the whip rules retrospectively Friday.
Soumillon was disgusted as he was forced to forfeit £52,000 (Dh300,000) after winning the Group 1 contest at Ascot last Saturday aboard Cirrus Des Aigles, because he was found to hit his mount six times in the final furlong.
According to controversial laws brought in 12 days ago, he was permitted to hit his mount only five times in the final 200 metres.
"I'm delighted at the news, not only for myself but for all the UK jockeys in particular, and horse racing in general," said the Belgian-born rider from Clairefontaine. "Well done to the BHA for listening and turning things around. Today is a big day."
Jockeys in Britain will continue to be restricted to seven strikes during a race on the Flat, but with no limits in the final 200 metres. Riders will no longer lose their riding fees, and they will only lose their percentage of prize-money if they incur a suspension of seven days for major offences. Money forfeited will be ring fenced and used for initiatives related to jockey welfare and training.
The U-turn comes after the Professional Jockeys' Association, as well as prominent riders such as Frankie Dettori, met with the BHA on Monday to outline their concerns about the laws. Although it is clear the jockeys brought pressure to bear on the BHA, the organisation rejected claims that it had buckled.
"The board emphasises that it must be the role of the regulator, not the sport's participants, to set and enforce the rules," the BHA said, in a statement. "Regulation cannot be a negotiation, but must involve due consultation."
Other jockeys to fall foul of the laws included Richard Hughes, who received two bans in four days which ruled him out of the ride aboard Sheikh Fahad Al Thani's Strong Suit in the Breeders' Cup Mile next month. He subsequently refused to ride but returned to competitive riding with a win aboard Usain Colt at Newbury on Friday.
Elsewhere, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, has two live chances in Group 1 races on opposite sides of the world Saturday.
Helmet is the Sheikh's first runner in the Aus$3 million (Dh11.35m) Cox Plate, Australia's premier weight-for-age contest, since Grandera came third for Godolphin in 2002.
Kerrin McEvoy, the jockey, has been slimming for the past two weeks to reach his lowest weight for six years - 50.5kgs - as he bids to become only the eighth rider to win the Australian grand slam after wins in the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Golden Slipper.
McEvoy will sport Sheikh Mohammed's maroon and white colours, which will also be on show in England at Doncaster where his Zip Top contests the Racing Post Trophy.
Zip Top is among three horses trained by Jim Bolger this year for the founder of Godolphin and will be facing five rivals.