Jockey Soumillon docked £50,000 Ascot prize in whip row

Belgian jockey Christophe Soumillon has lost about £50,000 in prize money and been given a five-day ban for flouting the new whip rules.

He was punished after he struck his mount six times in the final furlong as he won the £1.3m Champion Stakes on Cirrus Des Aigles at Champions Day .

"They changed the rules five days before the race. How can they do that?" asked the 30-year-old.

The penalty cost him the biggest pot won by a jockey riding in the UK.

Tougher whip rules and penalties that only allow Flat jockeys five strikes in the final furlong have angered riders after they were introduced on Monday.

Richard Hughes relinquished his licence after a second whip ban and jockeys had threatened strike action before talks with racing's rulers were scheduled in an effort to resolve the dispute .

Analysis

This is patently a crisis and racing's regulator, the BHA, must rue bringing in new whip rules in this of all weeks. It is clearly unjust that a jockey is fined about £50,000 for a relatively minor slip. No one, for a second, is saying Christophe Soumillon abused his mount. His penalty makes the meeting between racing's regulator and the jockeys all the more important on Monday. Previous penalties were probably not tough enough, but they are now draconian. The difficulty appears to be the level of punishment, rather than number of times whip are used. It is hard not to sympathise with Soumillon riding his horse over 40mph and having to see where the furlong marker is

The new guidelines mean the whip can only be used a maximum of seven times in a Flat race and eight times over the jumps - roughly half the previous limit - with a maximum of five of those strikes allowed within the final furlong or after the final fence.

Soumillon was riding in the UK for the first time since the new regulations were brought in.

He was punished after guiding his 12-1 shot to victory following a neck-and-neck tussle with So You Think in the mile-and-a-quarter contest on the richest ever raceday in Britain. The Belgian rider is estimated to have lost about £50,000.

After a stewards' inquiry, Soumillon said: "They have given me a five-day ban and have taken my money from me. How can they take my money?

Jockeys are not here to whip horses, they are here to make the horses do their best and that is what I tried to do

Christophe Soumillon

"They have changed the rules five days before the race - how can they do that?

"For such a small thing, I get a big ban. I think the jockeys should get together because it is impossible to work this way."

Soumillon said he could not understand why the rules were not the same around the world.

"I'm very embarrassed for English racing today," said the jockey, who is based in France.

"You have a lot of problems but the whip is not one of them.

"Jockeys are not here to whip horses, they are here to make the horses do their best and that is what I tried to do."