Vadeni became the first French-trained horse to win the Eclipse Stakes for 62 years, as the Group One contest saw a thrilling race from start to finish. It’s the first success an Aga Khan-owned horse has managed since Harzand’s win at Epsom Downs in 2016.
The Jean Claude Rouget-trained horse won the French Derby in excellent style in the lead up to the race. Vadeni was running under Christophe Soumillon, and the horse and jockey pair were in good form with 11/4 odds. It was a tight victory, only a neck in it as Vadeni finished ahead of Mishriff in second. Native Trail was a head further back, with Lord North half a length behind. Bay Bridge and Alenquer were fifth and sixth.
The field only began to spread with less than a furlong to go, two lengths separating the horses up until that point. As things heated up in the closing stages, numerous runners looked to take the lead. The horse racing betting odds went out the window as the runners traded first place, before Soumillon did well to make sure that it was Vadeni who came home in first.
The Eclipse Stakes was one of the few major races that Vadeni’s current owner, Aga Khan IV, had not yet won, and it will have been a massively satisfying success for him. While he would have been celebrating wildly, he wasn’t the only one. Soumillon celebrated on crossing the line, with Vadeni drifting to the right. He hampered Native Trail, who in turn hampered Lord North.
Soumillon was given a 12 day ban for careless riding. Speaking afterwards, he was more than willing to admit responsibility: “I just celebrated – at that point I wasn’t looking in front of me the last 20 yards. I don’t know the track and when I passed the line I didn’t see William Buick and James Doyle on my inside. Unfortunately they had to check both their horses quite badly and like I said to the stewards, that is my fault. I hadn’t ridden here for maybe 15 years and I forgot that the rail come back out quite fast, and my horse just shifted to the corner.”
“I shouldn’t have first celebrated like that and I should have looked to my inside to make sure I hadn’t put them in trouble at that point,” he continued. “Maybe 12 days is a bit hard – in France, if you put somebody on the ground it’s 15 days and it was not on purpose. It was after the line but it’s the decision of the stewards so I have to accept it.”
Vadeni performed superbly, and looked at ease throughout the race. “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,” his trainer explained.
His jockey echoed the sentiment. “He was really relaxed,” Soumillon explained. “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.”