10/15/2011 1:24PM

Ascot: Soumillon fined $79,800 for whip infraction after guiding Cirrus des Aigles to victory


Cirrus des Aigles caught So You Think in the final 50 yards of Saturday’s Group 1 Champion Stakes at Ascot Racecourse in England, but the race was marred by a suspension and massive fine given to winning jockey Christophe Soumillon for excessive use of the whip.

British racing officials implemented new whip rules on Oct. 10, limiting a flat jockey to seven strikes with the whip, and no more than five in the final furlong. In addition, the minimum suspension was increased to five days, with financial penalties also put in place.

Soumillon was cited for striking Cirrus des Aigles six times in the final furlong of the Champion Stakes, which was worth approximately $2,028,000. Speaking to British television, the France-based jockey said, "I’m very, very, very embarrassed for British racing. The people and the fans have been let down."

Soumillon was fined approximately $79,800, his share of the prize money, and was suspended for five days.

The penalty overshadowed what is by far the biggest win of Cirrus des Aigles’s career. Trained by Corinne Barbande-Barbe in France, Cirrus des Aigles, sent off at 12-1, closed steadily through the final furlong to win the race over 1 1/4 miles by three-quarters of a length. Cirrus des Aigles won four stakes in France earlier this year.

So You Think, fourth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 2, was the 7-4 favorite. He finished a half-length in front of the 4-year-old filly Snow Fairy, who closed well late.

Earlier on the British Champion Stakes program, Deacon Blues won his fifth consecutive race, and fourth in a group stakes in the Group 2 British Champions Sprint Stakes over six furlongs. Ridden by Johnny Murtagh, Deacon Blues stalked the pace for the first half-mile, took the lead in final furlong and won by 1 1/2 lengths over Wizz Kid.

Dancing Rain, the winner of the English Oaks in June, won the Group 2 British Champion Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes, her third major stakes win of the year. She was a Group 1 winner in Germany in August. Saturday, she led throughout the 1 1/2 miles to finish two lengths in front of Bible Belt.

In the first race, Ascot Gold Cup winner Fame and Glory won the Group 3 British Champions Long Distance Cup over two miles, outfinishing 12-5 favorite Opinion Poll by 1 1/4 lengths.