Vadeni grabs Eclipse victory for Rouget and Soumillon
Vadeni provided France with a rare Coral-Eclipse winner at Sandown in a thrilling finish which saw the younger generation prevail.
The French Derby winner was a first Sandown runner for French training great Jean-Claude Rouget and a first UK winner for his owner the Aga Khan since Harzand claimed the Derby in 2016.
Alenquer attempted to make all but soon looked a sitting duck as Bay Bridge cruised up only to flatten out.
Native Trail and Lord North then made their bids for glory, but Christophe Soumillon produced Vadeni (11-4) with a perfectly-timed challenge to seize the lead.
Mishriff, who endured a slightly unlucky run, he flew home in the final half a furlong under David Egan, but was beaten just a neck.
Soumillon said: “I waited in the last position but the pace was just fine. We didn’t go really fast, but for my horse everything was perfect.
“He was really relaxed. He changed legs perfectly everywhere I wanted and when I came out of the turn, the pace picked up and for like 50 or 100 yards he was a bit off the bridle, so I had to give him a chance.
“When he just went up that small uphill at the two-furlong maker, he just took me on the bridle and changed legs. That was at the point where I was thinking may I wait a bit more and I saw Mishriff on my inside completely stopped and I said ‘I am not going to wait’. He is going to go through the horse to let my horse go.
“I just let him go. That is why I came maybe 50 or 100 yards too early to hit the front, but everything was fine. Unfortunately maybe 100 or 80 yards from the line, he stumbled and he lost balance for a few strides, and I had a neck in front of William (Buick on Native Trail) and I felt the horse come too on the outside, so I was like, ‘please, don’t give up, keep going’.
“Even if it is tough track, he gives you a gear like champions can give you.
“For me, he is a pure mile-and-a-quarter horse. In the beginning of the race he doesn’t show too much speed, but the way he accelerates and you look at him physically, he really looks like that (a mile and quarter).
“With horses, you never know. We will see how he goes next – probably for the Irish Champion Stakes – and from there we will see. He is a really special horse.”
Rouget said: “He was very relaxed in the first part of the race. I was a little bit anxious at the beginning of the straight as he looked not very well (placed), but after a change of foot he came easily.
“Christophe said he had a bad step about 80 metres from the post, so that cut his action. I thought at that moment he could be second, but with his courage he became the winner. It was very important for him to win this race for his stallion career at home.
“If I decide to supplement a horse like that, it is my basic instinct so I was confident. I have 43 years of training in my legs so I know it is always difficult to win a maiden and to win the Eclipse, for me it was a real challenge – winning the Irish Champion with Almanzor, we were the same.
“I hope this one will win the other race (Irish Champion).”
There was a sting in the tail for Soumillon though, who, while celebrating on crossing the line, allowed Vadeni to drift to his right, badly hampering Native Trail who in turn forced James Doyle to snatch up on Lord North.
Soumillon was given 12 days (July 16-27 inclusive) for careless riding.