Christophe Soumillon: finished a distance clear on MandaliPICTURE: Edward Whitaker/racingpostpix.com
Soumillon shines over jumps on Mandali
Report: France, Saturday
Auteuil: Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil (French Champion Hurdle) (Group 1) 3m1½f, 5yo+
CHRISTOPHE SOUMILLON, one of the top riders in the world on the Flat, scored an extraordinary success over jumps on Saturday when Mandali (Jean-Paul Gallorini) took the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil.
The 11-2 chance scored by a distance from last year's champion hurdler Questarabad in the €370,000 contest, where the Edward O'Grady-trained Jumbo Rio fell on the second circuit.
Soumillon, three times France's champion Flat jockey, was overjoyed. "I am so happy to have won - it's crazy!" he said.
Taken immediately into the lead by Soumillon, Mandali was soon wellin advance, and for most of the race was almost a hurdle in front of his rivals.
Given a breather down the backstretch, the son of Sinndar then galloped on to maintain his incredible lead.
Reigning champion Questarabad took second, with Really Hurley third a further six lengths behind.
The victory gave Soumillon his first ever success over jumps, having finished third on his debut at the track last Tuesday.
Marcel Rolland: no complaintsPICTURE: Mark Cranham
"It is not my problem what happened behind me," addedSoumillon. "I just rode my race for the horse. But I really can't believe what happened."
Owned by Ecurie Zingaro, Mandali had previously been owned by Princess Zahra Aga Khan, and Soumillon was riding the six-year-old for the first time since 2008.
Gallorini added: "No one wanted to go in front, and Christophe just did his job. It is fantastic."
Owners Ecurie Zingaro are a partnership between equestrian artist Bartabas and cinema producer Marin Karmitz.
Bartabas said: "Christophe and I met in Hong Kong where I had a show and we had dinner. At the time, he said that he would like to ride for me but I never imagined we would win this!"
The remainder of the field retruned to booing from the crowd, but Questarabad's trainer Marcel Rolland said: "Regis Schmidlin did nothing wrong and I have nothing to complain about.
"We never planned to be up with the leader early on and he ran a good race in such an unforeseen scenario."
Also on Saturday
Auteuil: Prix Alain du Breil (French Triumph Hurdle) (Group 1) 2m3½f, 4yo
The French Triumph Hurdle culminated in a ding-dong battle from the second-last in which 2-1 second favourite Salder Roque (Guy Cherel/ Cyrille Gombeau) just prevailed over market leader Bel La Vie.
The Irish visitor Loch Long wasnever in contention and finished last, having failed to act on the soft ground.
Always travelling comfortably behind the leaders Baan Rim Pa and Bel La Vie, Salder Roque moved up rounding the final turn to jump the last two hurdles together with Bel La Vie and the pair matched strides until a few metres before the post where Cherel'scharge just held the advantage.
"I thought I hadn't won it was so close," Cherel said. "That was [owner] Magalen Bryant's 600th winner in France, and I am very privileged to have this horse.
"The first two are very serious horses and the jockey rode him really well. He will now have a break and will probably stay over hurdles next autumn."
Prince Oui Oui finished third, five lengths behind the leading pair.
Auteuil: Prix des Drags (Group 2 chase) 2m6f, 5yo+
Last year's Grand Steeple winner Remember Rose played up again at the start resulting in a false start - and then the odds-on favourite could finish only second, beaten fivelengths by 10.5-1 shot Alarm Call (Jacques Ortet/Cyrille Gombeau).