If the Hong Kong Jockey Club hasn’t been on the phone to Christophe Soumillon in the past few days, it should’ve been.

It’s been a bumpy week for Soumillon since his brain fade in Paris, with the Belgian rider drawing criticism from far and wide – and rightfully so – after sending Rossa Ryan flying from his horse with a loose elbow on Friday.

Soumillon was lucky to only get a 60-day suspension for his reckless and dangerous act, that’s for certain.

But almost equally certain is the fact the 41-year-old will return to the racetrack when his ban ends on December 12.

Soumillon has vowed to take his medicine and work to rebuild the trust of the racing fraternity. Sports fans love stories of redemption – why shouldn’t Soumillon begin his in Hong Kong?

Soumillon has lost his retainer for the Aga Khan, but “it won’t prevent Christophe from riding our horses again from time to time, if the trainer in question feels it would be useful”.

He will ride Order Of Australia for Aidan O’Brien in the Coolmore Turf Mile at Keeneland on Saturday.

Christophe Soumillon salutes at Happy Valley.

Already, the racing world is moving on – the commercial reality of the sport has guaranteed that.

While the Jockey Club often goes out of its way to steer clear of controversy, the current state of its riding ranks means the time is ripe to take a gamble.

With Joao Moreira sidelined until at least the end of the year but very possibly longer and Zac Purton’s future beyond December’s Longines Hong Kong International Races uncertain, officials are acutely aware of the need to attract star power.

While Soumillon obviously has his flaws – he has long been regarded as a hothead and also split from the Aga Khan back in 2009 – there’s no questioning the jockey’s superstar status.

Fownes subpoenas Witness to give evidence in own defence at Sha Tin on Sunday

The furore of the past week is testament to that, and he’ll be the talk of the racing world when he emerges from his ban in December.

Sha Tin could be the ideal place to re-enter the fold – somewhere he’s had plenty of success in the past, somewhere which will offer him some separation from Europe and the scene of the crime.

Soumillon will miss HKIR but could slot in nicely the following week with less fanfare and ride out the winter in Hong Kong before reintegrating himself in Europe.

No doubt the idea has been floated at Jockey Club HQ, and at a time when attracting top-end talent to Hong Kong continues to prove difficult because of Covid-19 restrictions that refuse to fully go away, the reunion of Soumillon and the Jockey Club could prove the ideal marriage of convenience.

Gendarme to chase HKIR riches?

Reports out of Japan suggest last weekend’s Group One Sprinters Stakes (1,200m) winner Gendarme could be Sha Tin bound after his boilover victory at Nakayama.

Many a Japanese speedster has launched a raid on the Group One Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) straight out of the Sprinters Stakes, with Danon Smash winning on international day at Sha Tin in 2020 after finishing runner-up in the Sprinters Stakes on his previous start.

The legendary Lord Kanaloa did the Sprinters Stakes-Hong Kong Sprint double in 2012 and 2013, each time without a run in between. Just last year, Resistencia was second in the Sprint behind Sky Field after his runner-up effort in Nakayama.

It’ll take a strong showing from Gendarme to take down a local brigade headlined by Group One winners Wellington and Sky Field, and potentially featuring rising stars Cordyceps Six and Lucky Sweynesse, but the Japanese are known for not shirking a challenge.

Let’s hope that’s again the case with Gendarme.