One of the world’s top jockeys, Christophe Soumillon, was handed a two-month ban on Friday after elbowing fellow jockey Rossa Ryan out of the saddle in the middle of a race.
Soumillon was riding Syros for Francis Graffard in the Group Three Prix Thomas Bryon Jockey Club de Turquie at Saint-Cloud when edging to his right and making contact with Ryan, who was aboard British challenger Captain Wierzba for Ralph Beckett.
The Belgian-born ace deliberately stuck out an elbow, although he denied it was intention to dislodge Ryan. He apologised for his actions on At The Races, saying it was "not a nice act" and that he had made "a misjudgement".
Ryan was unseated with the runners travelling at about 35mph and suffered a somersaulting fall. Fortunately, he was unscathed in the incident and was able to walk unaided into a medical van.
Syros ran on stoutly to be second but was disqualified by the French stewards, who then gave Soumillon his lengthy suspension for dangerous riding. It will start on October 14, meaning he remains free to ride in a string of top races at Longchamp this weekend, including in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on the well-fancied Vadeni. He is seeking a third win in the showpiece.
"I received a little bit of pressure from Rossa's mount on my outside trying to get a better position behind Ryan," Soumiullon, 41, said. "I was just behind Ryan at the time. And I put my elbow against him just to make him understand I wasn't going to the inside and unfortunately when I asked my horse to stay there and go a little bit to the right, I pushed him for one stride or two and he fell off.
"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."
"I just received a big suspension from the France-Galop stewards. I'm going to be suspended for two months - 60 days of racing. So that's a very big thing. So unfortunately, my end-of-season is now gone. But I accept the sentence for what I did, for the terrible mistake like I said.”