Jockey Club withdraws licence for Soumillon

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 January, 2010, 12:00am

Champion jockey Christophe Soumillon has been rebuffed by the Jockey Club and his invitation to ride in Hong Kong this winter withdrawn.

A licence previously granted the Belgian superstar was cancelled last night for, in simple terms, messing the club around, after yet another attempt by the rider to change the dates of his annual stint.

'The Licensing Committee is flexible in dealing with applications from jockeys to vary the terms of their contracts, where it is reasonable,' said chief steward Kim Kelly. 'However, jockeys have to respect the licence and realise that it is a privilege that shouldn't be taken lightly.'

Soumillon had originally applied for a club contract last September, informing the Licensing Committee of his availability from January 6 to March 27, and was subsequently licensed for that period.

That period was varied last week to begin on January 24, after medical advice to Soumillon that he would need more time to recover after having a pin removed from a fractured elbow injury.

On Thursday, Soumillon's agent again contacted the club to request the finish date of his contract be brought forward a month to February 27, as the jockey would be required by his retaining stable in France from March 1. The agent also advised that Soumillon would be ready to commence his contract here from January 16, contrary to his information a week earlier.

The Jockey Club's press release, signed by Kelly, yesterday noted that in six previous riding stints on retainer and as a club jockey, Soumillon had cut his contract short on four occasions.

'Considering the manner in which Soumillon has repeatedly sought to amend the dates of his licensing period, the fact that he is not able to fulfil a significant portion of it, the late notification of his requests and his recurrent failure to honour the term of previous licensing periods, the Licensing Committee has withdrawn the licence previously granted,' said Kelly, but added that the door remained open for Soumillon in the future.

'The Jockey Club does seek to attract the world's best jockeys and every licence application, from Christophe Soumillon or anyone else, will continue to be considered on [their] merits.'