where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2022-09-09 08:19:30  
Vadeni and Soumillon could prove a formidable team in Leopardstown's Irish Champion Stakes

The Irish Champion Stakes is well named having been won by many champions and the super French-trained colt Vadeni will join that illustrious coterie if he stretches his Group 1 winning sequence over Leopardstown's 2009m on Saturday (10 September).

His rider is Christophe Soumillon, who has achieved fame as a 10-time French champion jockey and also owns an astounding international CV which includes Group 1 winners in ten different countries.

One of Soumillon's memorable big race accomplishments came when Almanzor – trained like Vadeni by Jean-Claude Rouget – won the 2016 Irish Champion Stakes, a contest that was at the time recognised as the world's best turf race in the LONGINES classifications.

Another came in July this year when Vadeni supplemented his runaway French Classic victory in June's G1 Prix du Jockey Club (2100m) at Chantilly when proving that his lightning acceleration could outpace older stars in the G1 Eclipse Stakes (1990m) at Sandown - his most recent race and 70 days before this prestigious Leopardstown target.

Soumillion later said that he was overwhelmed by the elation of achieving a first victory since 1960 by a French-trained horse in that great Sandown race. And, in what he described as a 'champagne moment', he allowed Vadeni to drift crossing the line, squeezing and intimidating two opponents with the Belgian rider receiving a ban that he later successfully appealed against.

"I made a mistake and I will take more care next time," Soumillon said, but his actions on the day certainly also reveal the reverence in which he holds the Aga Khan-owned bay son of Churchill.

Vadeni must again face Mishriff, the brilliant world class five-year-old who was only a neck behind him after a deeply frustrating passage at Sandown. With James Doyle injured, champion Irish jockey Colin Keane has been booked for this seven-time winning star performer.

And then there is Luxembourg who threatened to be one of the most exciting three-year-olds in Europe in 2022, an aspiration so far wrecked by injury. And, while it was widely considered to be an unconvincing performance when he returned to win the G3 Royal Whip (2000m) at The Curragh last month, Saturday's jockey Ryan Moore – who won this race last year – sees it differently commenting: "He really needed his run at the Curragh and I think you'll see a better version of him on Saturday."

Sounding equally optimistic of a big show is Dermot Weld, responsible for Homeless Songs in the G1 Matron Stakes (1609m) on Saturday. Despite a 111-day break since her last start, she will surely start favourite because of the effortless manner in which this daughter of Frankel gained Classic glory by romping away with the G1 Irish 1000 Guineas (1600m) at The Curragh in May.

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