Soumillon leaves cream of French jumps trailing in Auteuil triumph

Leading Flat jockey wins Gallic Champion Hurdle on Mandali as turfistes boo established names

As Ryan Moore, Johnny Murtagh, Frankie Dettori et al fought out finishes in their conventional arena of Royal Ascot, the weekend's sport in France produced a quite extraordinary result for one of their Flat colleagues and showed that a horseman is a horseman, whatever the challenge. Christophe Soumillon, three times French champion, dipped into the world of jump racing, and promptly won the Gallic version of the Champion Hurdle at Auteuil.

It was the Belgian's first victory over obstacles, having finished third on his debut at the famed and difficult Parisian track last Thursday. And, riding the 11-2 chance Mandali for Jean-Paul Gallorini, the flamboyant flatman simply rode some of France's best jump jockeys to sleep. He set off in front and was soon a hurdle ahead of his rivals, who reckoned the upstart had got it wrong and would come back to them.

But Soumillon's judgement of pace through the three and a quarter miles was such that he was able to give his mount a breather down the final backstretch before pressing on again to win the £300,000 contest by more than 30 lengths.

Second place was taken by the reigning champion Questarabad, the 7-10 favourite. And the furious local turfistes left his rider Regis Schmidlin and the others behind in no doubt of their opinion; the storm of booing that greeted their return made the reception given to the England footballers seem mild.

"It's crazy," Soumillon said, "but it's not my problem what went on behind me. I just rode my race for my horse. I can't really believe what happened, but I'm absolutely delighted."

Soumillon had ridden Mandali – a six-year-old half-brother to top-class filly Mandesha – before, as a three-year-old in his days on the Flat before he was cast off from the Aga Khan's string to go jumping. He is now part-owned by equestrian impresario and trick-rider Bartabas, who met the jockey after one of his shows in Hong Kong. "He said then he'd like to ride for me one day," said the artist, "but I never imagined something like this."

Although Lester Piggott once rode a Cheltenham Festival winner before seriously turning his attention to the Flat, riders from the two disciplines rarely overlap outside novelty events. The closest equivalent to Saturday's performance previously was when Murtagh tried his luck on Golden Cross in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham four years ago and failed by a head..

Horses, however, can be more versatile – witness Markington, who followed a success over hurdles at Aintree 10 days ago with victory in the Pontefract Cup on the Flat yesterday. And, at a higher level, several worlds are now an oyster for new Gold Cup hero Rite of Passage. One bookmaking firm, SkyBet, has responded to the Dermot Weld-trained chestnut's battling success over Age Of Aquarius in the Royal meeting's showpiece by cutting him to 14-1 for next year's Champion Hurdle. Another, William Hill, has gone further by offering 25-1 against his becoming the first horse to win the Flat and jumping Gold Cup.

Rite Of Passage has already shone at Cheltenham, finishing third last year in the Champion Bumper to Dunguib and taking the same position in March behind Peddlers Cross in the Neptune Novices Hurdle. The six-year-old is unbeaten in three starts on the Flat and has the Melbourne Cup pencilled in.

"He'll have a summer break now and then we'll see," Weld said yesterday. "The Irish St Leger would be his most likely comeback race. I think it was a very good Gold Cup – it was a record time and the third horse [Purple Moon] was a good bit back and a long way ahead of the others. But he's a super leaper over hurdles and a very athletic horse, so the Champion Hurdle could well be a race for him."

Weld also has the talented mare Profound Beauty – who has taken the scalp of Age Of Aquarius this term – under consideration for the Flemington feature, which he has won in the past with Vintage Crop and Media Puzzle. She will reappear at the Curragh at the weekend, during the Irish Derby meeting, in either the Curragh Cup over a mile and six or the Pretty Polly Stakes over 10 furlongs.

*Sue Montgomery's Nap

Dance East (8.10 Windsor)

Ran the subsequent Ribblesdale runner-up to a neck before cruising home in her maiden last month with two subsequent winners behind her.



Next best

Navy List (4.45 Lingfield)

Too free over further on his seasonal debut but the drop back in trip may help him settle and continue his progress of last season.



One to watch

Away from the razzmatazz of Royal Ascot, sprint handicapper Distant Sun (L A Perratt) caught the eye with his third place at Hamilton on Friday.



Where the money's going

Saturday's Golden Jubilee Stakes hero Starspangledbanner is now 3-1 from 7-2 to follow up in next month's July Cup at Newmarket.



*Chris McGrath's Nap

Russian Spirit (2.45 Lingfield)

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine