Vadeni charges to Eclipse success in blanket finish at Sandown

Christophe Soumillon talked of the “extra gear that just champions give you” after a narrow success on Vadeni in the Eclipse Stakes and even a 12-day ban from the stewards over an incident just after the line did little to dampen the jockey’s enthusiasm after his first success in this historic race.

The margin of victory was just a head over Mishriff with Native Trail and Lord North also within a length of the winner, but Vadeni has more scope than any of his five rivals here and will sure take all the beating at 10 furlongs this summer.

Vadeni’s turn of foot carried him a long way clear of his rivals in the French Derby at Chantilly last month and while his first win in an all-aged Group One was not as explosive, his finishing kick was still sufficient to carry him from last to first in the final quarter-mile, after Alenquer set a steady pace through the opening mile.

This was also a first Eclipse winner for Jean-Claude Rouget, Vadeni’s trainer, the first for the current Aga Khan – whose last winner in Britain was Harzand in the 2016 Derby – and the first for a French-trained runner since 1960. The only blemish on Vadeni’s performance was a jink to the right just after the line, which caused William Buick, on Native Trail, to snatch up. The stewards decided Soumillon was guilty of “careless riding when making a celebratory gesture and leaving only one hand on the rein”.

“He was really relaxed, he changed legs perfectly everywhere I wanted,” Soumillon said. “At the two-furlong marker, I was thinking, maybe I wait a bit more [but] I saw Mishriff on my inside completely stuck and I said, I’m not going to wait, so I just let him go.

“In the last 50 yards I felt a horse [Mishriff] coming on my outside. I thought, don’t give up, just keep going, and he did that, a bit like Almanzour [Rouget’s Champion Stakes winner]. When Jean-Claude brings a champion like that, even if it’s a tough track, he gives you that extra gear that just champions can give you.”

Mishriff, as Soumillon pointed out, had an unfortunate run against the rail and David Egan was forced to come around horses to challenge, but Vadeni might well have been more impressive with a stronger pace to chase. Rouget’s colt is now likely to attempt to extend his Group One-winning streak to three in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in September.

He is also quoted at around 5-1 for the 12-furlong Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, a race that his owner prizes above all others, in October, although his rider feels he could be better off sticking to ten.

Mishriff’s trainer, John Gosden, meanwhile, hinted at a reunion with Frankie Dettori. The pair are currently on a “sabbatical” after a troubled Royal Ascot. Gosden said: “Sabbatical was a very carefully chosen word. I’m absolutely over the moon with what Frankie is doing, he’s going to Germany, he’s going to ride a lot for Mark Johnston at Newmarket next week because Joe [Fanning] has hurt his arm and then he’s off to Belmont, so he’s doing exactly what I wanted to see.

“I’m very happy with it and he and I will be back together quite sensibly when we’ve passed through this.”

“For me he’s pure mile-and-a-quarter,” Soumillon said. “In the beginning of the race, he didn’t show too much speed but the way he accelerates and if you look at him physically, he really looks like that. But with horses you never know. We will see how he goes next, probably for the Irish Champion Stakes, but for sure he’s a really special horse.”

The stewards were also busy after the Group Two Lancashire Oaks at Haydock Park, where Rab Havlin, who rode Free Wind to a remarkable success after she was involved in serious interference with Eshaada a quarter of a mile out, was banned for five days for careless riding after being judged to have gone for “an insufficient gap which was only briefly viable”.

This verdict astonished many observers, who thought the gap was more than wide enough for Havlin to attack and that Jim Crowley, on Eshaada, could have been deemed guilty of dangerous riding. Whether Havlin will appeal against the decision remains to be seen.