PAT HEALY: This week Pat addresses the Christophe Soumillon controversy and shares his thoughts about the outcome.
Christophe Soumillon suspension
In 42 years of going racing I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve seen jockeys make race riding manoeuvres, sportsmanship manoeuvres, down the years but I’ve never seen anything like that. Rossa Ryan could have broken his neck and been killed. As a father, if I’d been at the races and Christophe Soumillon had done that to my son, I don’t think he would have made it back into the weighing room. When that’s a feeling an incident brings people that are in the game and love the game, it’s wrong.
I’ve been an admirer of Christophe Soumillon for all his career and I’ve met Christophe a few times and I’m disappointed in him as a person. He’s a lucky boy. He’s obviously racing royalty because he’s only got two months suspension. Personally, I think it’s wrong, he should have got more. If the shoe was on the other foot and it was Rossa Ryan that committed the same offence I think you would have seen a different ban.
I’m disappointed too that horse racing has let itself down, the French stewards have let themselves down. I think if Christophe had got banned for a year it would have been a proper punishment. Jockeys that take drugs and do themselves damage get a year and a half, Christophe Soumillon could have, God forbid, killed a fellow rider and he gets two months. Get real!
It was a great result and I was delighted to see Alpinista win. It was such a great story for Sir Mark Prescott, Luke Morris and Miss Kirsten Rausing. She deserves it. She has Lanwades Stud in Newmarket and Staffordstown Stud here in Ireland and puts a huge amount into racing.
It was a fascinating race to watch, with 20 top-class runners who had, I think, won 29 Group 1s between them. The rain and the ground added to the contest.
When it came to the ground, all 20 runners ran. The rain was forecast, the ground was soft – they all ran. How many times do you see that happen during the summer? You don’t. People take horses out because the ground is soft or there’s rain forecast. For some reason every year, they don’t defect in the Arc de Triomphe. Is it because of the track, or the prize money or is it because of its place at the end of the season?
Kieren was plying his trade in England and he has come over here in the last six months to ride. He’s based with Gavin Cromwell and he is riding out for plenty of stables.
He’s a tall lad but he does well with his weight, he’s a hard worker and on top of it all he can ride. He’s a very very good jump jockey and is a nice kid. Keep an eye on him over the coming months. He’ll ride plenty of winners over the winter and is well worth watching.