Top jockey Christophe Soumillon will finish his Hong Kong stint on Sunday after the Belgian ace decided not to extend his stay until next month’s Derby.
The 39-year-old was still weighing up his options last week as he considered opportunities in Saudi Arabia and Dubai against remaining in Hong Kong but it has been confirmed he will leave after completing his nine rides at Sha Tin’s Lunar New Year meeting.
“His original licence was granted and approved up until Sunday and he we will be finishing after Sunday,” Jockey Club licensing committee secretary Terry Bailey said. “There were some motions in place [to extend] but he’s decided not to pursue it.”
Luck has not been on Soumillon’s side in recent months, his bad run starting after testing positive to Covid-19 just before the Breeders’ Cup and subsequently missing out on two Group One wins.
A testing irregularity then ruled him out of the Hong Kong International Races which meant he watched on as another horse he was meant to ride, Normcore, captured the HK$28 million Group One Hong Kong Cup.
While a couple of untimely suspensions stopped him building any serious momentum during his two-month stay, things reached a nadir in last month’s Classic Mile when he was riding second favourite Enrich Delight, who broke down badly in the back straight and was euthanised.
Soumillon, who has not seen his family since November 23 after visa issues and quarantine extensions scuppered any chance of them coming to Hong Kong, has nine wins and 20 placings from 87 rides from this stint so far.
He was on the receiving end of another piece of misfortune at Happy Valley on Wednesday night when his mount Royal Bomb suffered interference in the fourth race with Joao Moreira subsequently found guilty of careless riding, suspended for two meetings and fined HK$60,000.
It was a busy night for stewards, who also completed an inquiry into the failure of David Ferraris to declare his entered horses for the meeting.
After conducting interviews, they decided not to issue a charge against the trainer or any of his staff as there had also been a technical issue from the Jockey Club’s end.
“After having considered all the circumstances of this case, the stewards believed that whilst Mr Ferraris had failed in his responsibilities, they were of the opinion that there had been a significant flaw in the club’s standard operating procedures in respect of the advance notification of any failure to submit declarations by the stipulated time,” the stewards’ report stated.