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Controversy As Cirrus Jockey Breaks Whip Rules

Monday, 17th October 2011

Controversy followed the exciting victory by Cirrus Des Aigles over So You Think in the UK Gr1 Champion Stakes when stewards announced winning jockey Christophe Soumillon had broken the new whip rules by using it 6 times (once more than the allowed 5 times) in the final furlong & immediately handed down a 5-day riding ban as well as stripping him of his £50,868 (A$81,400) share of the prize-money. An irate Soumillon declared to racingpost.com: "I'm very, very, very embarrassed for British racing. The people & the fans have been let down. This is 2011, we are civilised people, it's not the 1800s, we can't be treated like this. The rules can change, but not like this, you can't chop our heads & legs off. I am not here to whip horses, I'm here to make the horse run his best. These whips are soft & maybe I should have hit him earlier. You're going flat out, there is a huge crowd here & advertising everywhere. How are you meant to see a tiny furlong marker? For the sake of 20 yards, I've been punished & lost £50,000; my valet will be paid, so will my agent, but I will not. This will have a big impact on my title challenge in France also. In what other sport do you see such big punishments for a little offence? It doesn't happen to Michael Schumacher or Zinedine Zidane & they earn 10-times what we do. I heard about this a week ago - how can I adapt my riding style in a week? The last time I rode in this country was a month ago. It's different in this country to everywhere else. I ride in many countries - we need international guidelines like they have in every other sport. I've hit my horse 6 times, that's less than 7 (the limit allowed, but with only 5 in the last furlong), yet I get banned & all my money taken.” Soumillon added he will take legal action against the new rules, noting: “You can't take money earned off people like this. I will get a good lawyer & we will see.”

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