By Jon Lees
Hong Kong: Christophe Soumillon has been ruled out of the Hong Kong International Races after being told he must undergo further Covid-19 tests before he can be released from quarantine.
The Belgian had rides in every G1 on Sunday’s card including on Japan’s Admire Mars, on whom he was seeking back-to-back success in the Longines Hong Kong Mile. He will be replaced by Ryan Moore on the defending champion.
He has been quarantining since he arrived in Hong Kong to begin a two-month riding stint from this weekend but has now been stood down from the prestigious race meeting by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
The Club said in a statement: “The Hong Kong Jockey Club has been informed by jockey Christophe Soumillon that he has been requested by the Department of Health to undergo further COVID-19 tests.
“It is unknown at this stage when the testing will be completed and when Soumillon will be released from quarantine.
“Jockey Soumillon was licensed by the Club on the basis that he would undergo a mandatory 14 days quarantine under the Compulsory Quarantine of Persons Arriving at Hong Kong from Foreign Places Regulation (Cap. 599E).
“Jockey Soumillon arrived at Hong Kong on November 26 and commenced this 14 days quarantine.
“Despite having cleared his initial COVID-19 test on his arrival, he has yet to receive an unconditional release from quarantine in order to ride on this coming Sunday.
“The Club has taken advice from its Chief Medical Officer. Given these circumstances the Stewards have decided to stand him down from Sunday’s riding engagements. The Club is in the process of informing the relevant connections. The change of riders will be published in due course.”
Soumillon has been absent from the saddle since mid-October when he left France to ride at the Breeders’ Cup only to fail a coronavirus test, costing him victories on the Aga Khan’s Tarnawa in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Order Of Australia in the Mile.
Last week he said he was recovered and feeling well again as he looked forward to the Hong Kong International Races where he was also due to partner Normcore in the Cup. He will now be ridden by Zac Purton, with Vincent Ho taking over on Ho Ho Khan (Vase) and Alexis Badel on Computer Patch (Sprint).
• More about the Longines Hong Kong International Races at the HKJC website