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Matt Chapman: Why Christophe Soumillon deserves a second chance… and my big Saturday racing tip

BELEAGUERED jockey Christophe Soumillon wasn’t destined for an easy life — and I absolutely know that feeling.

In one of my old jobs my boss described me as “accident-prone”, although despite trudging into his office a number of times he never got rid of me.

Chappers has his say on the incident which has rocked racing

Luckily, he recognised I brought something to the table few others did. While sometimes it was a struggle, the pros outweighed (just) the cons.

And that is the same with the Belgian magician ‘Super Soumi’.

You’d rather have him on your team than against you. He will drive you crazy but has that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that is exquisite brilliance.

HOLLOWAY BOY (2.25 Newmarket)

Was not beaten far in a seven-furlong Group 3 here a fortnight ago.

This extra furlong should suit and he can get back to winning ways.

Soumillon, now sacked as retained rider to the Aga Khan, is about to start a two-month ban for a high-speed elbow that left fellow pilot Rossa Ryan lying on the ground in a daze. Luckily Ryan was completely uninjured.

Soumillon thinks. He said to me: “You know the story — I didn’t do it to make him fall off.

“Things happen. For me this will be a re-start, but it’s not the first time this kind of thing happens to me. I know how to deal with it.

“The most important thing is Rossa didn’t hurt himself. That means I can move forward without having that bad thing in my head.

“I’m fine. I will take a rest to make sure I come back stronger.”

There were calls for Soumillon to be banned for life. This was dirty riding of the dirtiest order.

But that’s social media for you. Full of extreme reaction without a lot of thought.


That said, I got the anger. Racing is dangerous enough without an elbow in the side.

But do you think it was deliberate? I don’t.

Ryan came off, but I don’t for one minute believe that was what Soumillon wanted.

It was a moment of petulance. Of holding your ground. Of believing you are the best in the world and others won’t stop the art you are trying to perform.

Ryan was keeping Soumillon tight and he wasn’t going to have it.

“Not so close my friend,” was what Soumillon was saying, but the delivery was out of sync.

I understand this sensation. In my world it’s when you say something and then wish you had relayed it in a different way.

It boils down to passion. On TV it’s easy to smile and tell the audience the day is amazing and go home and pick up the cheque.

But boundaries are there to be pushed. Knowing when to have that extra slice of self-control is the skill.

I’ve always believed every TV show I do the people watching should expect the unexpected. The interview with a twist.

Being accident-prone is not a desire, it’s a way of life.

Soumillon has always been a dashing rider, and his passion has often caused an issue.


Soumillon added: “I am not a killer. I love my sport and I love my horses. I love the competition.

“I’ll come back stronger. One day people will probably forgive me.”

Saint-Cloud was a bad day for Soumillon. It could have been much worse if Ryan had been hurt.

But he wasn’t and Soumillon adds so much to the sport of horseracing.

Love him or loathe him, most would admit they want to watch him. Safety will always come first.

But that dash of Belgian artistry also provides much fascination.

For me racing is better for it. Remember Luke 6:37: “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”