FRENCH racing’s ‘greatest showman’ is the favourite to win £2.5million in Europe’s richest horse race on Sunday.
But you could argue Christophe Soumillon has already won at life… having married a former Miss France.
The Belgian jockey picks up the plum ride on Tarnawa in the Arc de Triomphe, a race worth £4.3m.
Victory in Paris would be ever so sweet for Soumillon, 40, given he was forced to miss a winning ride on the same horse last October due to two positive Covid tests.
Soumillon, France’s ten-time champion jockey, has already won two Group 1s – the top races – on trainer Dermot Weld’s five-year-old superstar, who is currently the 5-2 joint favourite.
He scooped a total of £360,000 for those triumphs – but Sunday’s cheque could be almost seven times that amount.
Truth be told though, those mega sums of money won’t mean all that much to Soumillon.
Much more valuable will be winning one of the world’s biggest races in front of his wife and kids.
Soumillon said he is relishing the thought of his loved ones watching him in Paris, knowing he has a huge shot at winning what he called ‘the best race in the world’.
Mind you, his wife Sophie Thalmann – Miss France 1998 – has seen it all before.
She was by her man’s side when he won his second Arc in 2008, two years after they married.
Sophie, who at 5ft 11ins stands tall over her 5ft 6ins husband, has gone round the world with Soumillon, seeing him win races in Hong Kong, Dubai and Ascot.
The couple’s three children, Charlie, 15, Mika, 12, and four-year-old Robin travel in tow.
Despite the constant flights, upheaval and relentless pressure to diet, make weight and perform, Sophie says her man never really gets nervous before a huge race.
She told Le Parisien: “Before a big race Christophe remains the same – serene and focused.
“With him, that’s what’s incredible, it’s just a day like any other.
“At home, the two of us never discuss it [a big upcoming race]. It’s his job. When he walks through the door, we don’t talk about all that.
“It’s always been like this since we’ve been together.
“But I still take great pleasure in following him in his races and encouraging him.”
Thalmann is used to performing under pressure herself mind.
It’s said that some 15 million people tuned in to see her be crowned Miss France when she was 21, a year before she got her big break in TV.
There’s no denying the two will be the superstar couple at Longchamp this weekend.
CONTROVERSY OVER BOOKING
Though should Soumillon win, the victory won’t be without a smidgen of controversy.
Red-hot Irish jockey Colin Keane hopped into the saddle when Soumillon couldn’t race in America after his coronavirus hell – and won.
Keane was on board when Tarnawa won at Leopardstown in August and in the mare’s second-place finish in the ‘most exciting race ever’ at the same venue earlier this month.
Some punters have suggested Soumillon getting the ride over Keane is unfair.
But there’s a reason for it.
Billionaire racing mogul the Aga Khan – who has the world’s biggest private jet and a £200m yacht in his collection – owns Tarnawa.
And Soumillon is retained rider for the spiritual leader for any of his horses running in France.
The two could achieve the Holy Grail of Flat racing with victory on Sunday.
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