The race to become Ballydoyle’s next stable jockey took an unexpected twist today, with the news that Christophe Soumillon has all but ruled himself out of the job. The Belgian jockey has signed a one year contract as the Wildenstein family’s retained rider.
Soumillon had been the favourite to replace Johnny Murtagh as Aidan O’Brien’s stable jockey sincePat Smullen ruled himself out of the race early last week, but the 29-year-old has now agreed to become the main rider for the Wildenstein string.
“Christophe came into my office this morning and signed the contract to be our first jockey. He told me he will be extremely proud to wear the Wildenstein silks next season,” Guy Wildenstein told the Racing Post.
“Anthony Crastus will have the second rides. It is for a duration of two years and Christophe’s first mount for us will be on Planteur in the Hong Kong Cup. I think this association is really important as we have some very nice two-year-olds. Prairie Star was only third in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud on Saturday, but he hated the heavy ground and was very tired after the race.”
Only William Hills have priced up the betting on the new jockey this morning, and Colm O’Donoghue leads the market as the 2/1 favourite. Fran Berry has moved into second place on the 5/1 mark. With Murtagh confirmed to ride the Aga Khan string next season, Berry could well be on his way, but will it be to the biggest job in Irish racing. At this stage, punters and journalists have given up on the search.