Christophe Soumillon has lamented the lack of depth in Hong Kong racing after failing to make an impact at the top level during his short-term stint.
The superstar Belgian, who signed off with a double at Sha Tin on Sunday, has won a string of Group Ones in Hong Kong on big names such as Good Ba Ba and Gold-Fun but said the quality of horses in the jurisdiction is not what it once was.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t find what I was looking for when I took the decision to come away, which was to try to win some big races,” Soumillon said.
“I felt the champion horses were not available and to be honest I didn’t feel there were many good horses. When I came 10 or 15 years ago I thought there were a lot more top-class horses.
“At the moment it’s not really the way, which is why in the big races many of them only have eight or 10 runners, so it’s not easy to get on a good one.
“There are some good horses but if you look at the ratings, over 115 there are one or two horses per stable. I know 10-15 years ago there were much more than that.
“When there are three or four great horses running together, the top jockeys have to make a choice but at the moment there are just one or two top horses in a race. But things change and hopefully it can be different in a year’s time.”
After missing the Hong Kong International Races and the winning ride aboard Normcore in the Group One Hong Kong Cup because of a testing irregularity following his Covid-19 positive at the Breeders’ Cup, Soumillon was unhappy with the quality of rides he was able to attract in the biggest races.
He partnered Wishful Thinker to eighth in the Centenary Sprint Cup at $7.40 and Rise High to fifth in the Stewards’ Cup at $17.
He was aboard the talented Enrich Delight when he broke down as one of the leading hopes in the Classic Mile and was ultimately left disappointed after the best of his 11 wins was a Group Three aboard Savvy Nine.
“When it starts with not being able to ride at the biggest meeting of the season you know things are not going to be easy,” said Soumillon, who also endured two suspensions.
“At the end I was hoping I could get some nice horses for the big races after that but unfortunately nothing came to me. That’s life, sometimes you have to wait longer.
“A long time ago there were 20 horses that could run in Group One races and always be very competitive – at the moment it is more like five to eight.
“Especially when you have Zac [Purton], Joao [Moreira] and Vincent Ho [Chak-yiu] riding the good horses, they’re not making mistakes and they’re not going to get off them so it’s not easy to get on them.
“What happened with Enrich Delight was quite a shame because I thought he was one of the good horses for the future.”
Despite not everything going to plan, Soumillon hopes to return to Hong Kong next season after saying he was happy during his stay.
“Unfortunately, I have some family things to fix when I go back,” he said before jetting off to France on Sunday night.
“I will probably ride back in France in a month to prepare for Dubai – I will probably ride in the Dubai World Cup meeting if everything goes well but I’m not going to Saudi or Doha.
“I’m just going home to France and I will see how things go – hopefully I will come back next season.”