There will be no Longines Hong Kong International Races for regular visitor Christophe Soumillon after the Belgian’s brainfade at Saint-Cloud in Paris on Friday.
Soumillon was handed a 60-day ban after he elbowed fellow jockey Rossa Ryan during a race, causing the Irish jockey to fall from his mount and cartwheel along the track.
Soumillon’s ban runs until December 12, the day after the international races at Sha Tin.
The star jockey has been a familiar face on Hong Kong’s biggest day, riding in every Group One contest at last year’s December showcase.
“I’m terribly sad with what happened” – Christophe Soumillon apologises for elbowing Rossa Ryan off his mount at Saint-Cloud earlier today. pic.twitter.com/52OrMAMwTc— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) September 30, 2022
Soumillon won the 2019 Hong Kong Mile aboard Japanese raider Admire Mars, while he was famously denied victory on another galloper from the Land of the Rising Sun in 2020.
After having to forfeit his international day rides because of a Covid-19 testing irregularity in quarantine, Soumillon was forced to watch on as Zac Purton went onto win the Hong Kong Cup aboard one of those mounts, Normcore.
Nader signs off
Bill Nader took a moment to reflect on what has been a “life-changing journey” as the curtain came down on his second stint at the Jockey Club on Saturday.
The American is returning to his homeland to take up a job as president and chief executive of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, after first joining the Jockey Club in 2007.
“It’s been an incredible journey. It was a life-changing journey. There is so many great memories,” Nader said.
“It’s sad to go. I’ve done it before and come back, and now I’m going again. It’s always sad to leave here because it’s just such a great environment for racing. If you like working in racing, I don’t think there’s any better place to be.”
Nader was the Jockey Club’s executive director of racing between 2007 and 2015 before taking up the role of director of racing and business operations in 2018 following two years back in the United States.
Nader has been heavily involved in the Jockey Club’s Conghua racecourse in mainland China and says the opening of the facility in 2018 was a clear highlight of his time in Hong Kong.
“The opening of Conghua was a big deal. It was such a monumental moment in club history. When I came in, the mission was to get Conghua open and get it off the ground. It’s doing great, and that’s been a big part of my second stint,” Nader said.
Ng nails Sha Tin winner
He had a Happy Valley winner with his first runner at the city circuit, but Pierre Ng Pang-chi had to wait to taste Sha Tin success, which he did with his 22nd runner at the New Territories track on Saturday.
Ng’s breakthrough came thanks to Happy Sharing’s victory in the Class Three Shanghai Handicap (1,200m), with Luke Ferraris stalking the speed aboard the five-year-old before unleashing him in the straight.
“First Sha Tin win, definitely very happy. We waited for seven meetings to do it at Sha Tin, so we’re just looking forward to getting more now,” said Ng, who endured seven placings at Sha Tin before his first winner.
One of those placings came courtesy of Happy Sharing, who was a narrow second in his first run for Ng a fortnight ago after gradually acclimatising across six starts for Manfred Man Ka-leung last season.
Ferraris praised the rookie trainer after banking his fifth win of the campaign.
“We had a great run. He’s beaten a good field. Credit to Pierre and his team. They had the horse in good condition today and hopefully he goes on,” the South African rider said.
Apprentice jockey Angus Chung Yik-lai also experienced a first at the National Day meeting, banking his first Hong Kong success on turf after two on Sha Tin’s all-weather track.
Just as he’s done in his two first victories, Chung used his 10-pound claim to maximum effect aboard the Frankie Lor Fu-chuen-trained Oscar Glory, leading all the way to salute by half a length.
Badel celebrates daughter’s arrival
He may have been pipped aboard Cordyceps Six in the Group Three National Day Cup (1,000m), but jockey Alexis Badel still had a spring in his step as he left Sha Tin on Saturday and headed off to see his wife Eva and newborn daughter.
Badel’s wife gave birth to the couple’s second girl on Friday night, a baby sister to Rebecca, with the jockey confirming the pair will settle on a name over the weekend.
The 32-year-old marked his daughter’s arrival with a win, taking out the Class Four Chengdu Handicap (1,200m) aboard the John Size-trained Beauty Tycoon to land his fourth victory in the space of seven days.
Beauty Tycoon broke his maiden at start seven after going close to saluting a number of times during a debut season that featured four placings and a fourth from five starts.