/ Racing

Cirrus Des Aigles soars in Champion Stakes

Updated: Saturday, 15 Oct 2011 21:50

Christophe Soumillon rode Cirrus Des Aigles to victory
Christophe Soumillon rode Cirrus Des Aigles to victory

Cirrus De Aigles was a brave winner of the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot - but the win was tarnished by jockey Christophe Soumillon picking up a ban for using his whip six times inside the final furlong.

A terrific performance from Corine Barande-Barbe's five-year-old in the richest race ever run in Britain was overshadowed when news emerged around 20 minutes after the race that Soumillon was involved in a stewards' inquiry regarding his of his whip.

New whip regulations were implemented by the British Horseracing Authority on Monday and had caused such controversy a meeting had already been planned with riders' representatives for next week.

Richard Hughes, a senior member of the weighing room, relinquished his licence on Thursday after picking up two bans in the first four days.

One of the major issues for the jockeys is the fact that if they are found guilty they also lose their riding fee and percentage of prize money, in this case a a substantial amount.

"I'm very embarrassed for English racing today," said Soumillon.

"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.

"For a little mistake they give me a five-day suspension and I'm fighting for the title in France, so it is important for my career and they take away all my prize money, around £40,000.

"I cannot understand why they change it one week before Champions Day.

"I was just beside So You Think who everybody knows is a very tall horse. How can I see the furlong marker?

"For me you have to know. Can you hit them five times or seven? The furlong marker rule makes no sense."

Soumillon added that he intends to consult his lawyers.

Unfortunately for Cirrus Des Aigles (12-1), the Soumillon ban took most of the gloss off a tremendous training performance from a relatively small trainer who has just 32 horses at her Chantilly base.

Aidan O'Brien's giant So You Think looked to have done everything correct having tracked King George winner Nathaniel into the straight and taking up the running over a furlong out.

However, Soumillon had his move covered and Cirrus Des Aigles responded willingly for pressure.

Snow Fairy had little room in the straight for Olivier Peslier but once in the clear Ed Dunlop's filly flew and could possibly be considered a slightly unlucky loser.

Midday ran her usual solid race but finished fourth, the first time she has not been in the first two in over two years.

Barande-Barbe said: "This means a lot because I always thought he was very good.

"I wasn't nervous because I went to see him before the race and he put me at ease. I trust him. For me he's been sent from another world to help all of us.

"To win a Group One against the best horses in England is fantastic.

"I knew he could do it and now he's done it.

"He has run a lot this season but keeps improving, and has just run best race of his life. As long as he keeps enjoying it we will keep going. He's a gelding, but I'm not a commercial trainer and for me sport is racing.

"Last year we went to Japan and Hong Kong. He's had quite a hard season so probably we will just go to Hong Kong.

"This is the best day I've had in racing. Thank you to all the British people who have welcomed us."

O'Brien said of So You Think: "He ran a stormer, he's a big horse with a big heart.

"The boys (Coolmore) will have to speak about his future and make a decision."

Dunlop said of Snow Fairy: "Everyone has told me she got boxed in and was a bit unlucky, but I haven't really had a chance to look at it myself.

"She's run a great race, she was third in the Arc and third here. Hopefully we will go on to Japan now."

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