Sandown Eclipse Stakes: David Egan aims for a boutique win on Mishriff

IT is testament to David Egan’s determination that he has unfinished business with Mishriff – despite breakthrough wins aboard the colt in two of the world’s most valuable races.

David Egan riding Mishriff wins The Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racecourse on February 20, 2021 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
David Egan riding Mishriff wins The Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racecourse on February 20, 2021 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Victory in the Saudi Cup in Riyadh – first prize for connections was £7.3m – in February was followed a month later by a withering late run to take the Dubai Sheema Classic (and £2.2m) at Meydan for the John Gosden team.

While prize money for the 125th running today of the Group One Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown is very modest by comparison, it is a chance for Mishriff to prove his championship credentials and for Egan to record his biggest domestic win yet.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It promises to be a fascinating four-runner tactical affair – Mishriff and the globe-trotting Addeybb conceding weight to the Classic generation in the form of Aidan O’Brien’s French Derby hero St Mark’s Basilica and the outsider, El Drama.

David Egan after his Saudi Cup win on Mishriff.

Ground will be key – it was very testing at Ascot last October when the Tom Marquand-inspired Addeybb beat, amongst others, Mishriff, in the Qipco Champion Stakes.

While softer conditions will play to the strengths of the William Haggas-trained Addeybb, drier ground will enhance the case for Egan’s mount – and potentially St Mark’s Basilica, who is the Flat’s emerging force.

More pertinently, however, Egan, 22, is pleased to be aboard last season’s French Derby victor after spending last year watching more illustrious jockeys, including Frankie Dettori, ride the horse despite being retained by owner Prince Faisal.

However, he kept his counsel and has renewed confidence ahead of today’s test, part of the Qipco British Champions Series, following his victories in the Middle East.

David Egan celebrates his Saudi Cup win on Mishriff.

“Being able to prove that I’m able to ride at the top level and get the job done under pressure has filled me with confidence,” he said.

“Riding a horse like Mishriff makes the job very easy, but to be known as a big-race jockey after winning the richest race in the world for Mr Gosden and Prince Faisal, then coming back to win the Sheema Classic as well, has been massive.”

Besides his obvious class and natural ability, Mishriff has distinct qualities that ought to make him hard to beat, according to the former champion conditional.

“He’s a fresh and enthusiastic horse who can be ridden any way you want. I rode him very differently in the Saudi Cup and at Meydan, and having been able to lay up over nine furlongs (just behind two top American specialists) on dirt, for which you need a lot of speed, he then switched off at the back of the field over a mile- and-a-half on turf at Meydan,” he explained.

Tom Marquand will seek a fifth Group One win aboard Addeybb in today's Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.

“Not many horses can win at the highest level on dirt and turf, let alone over trips as varied as that, so it was a tremendous achievement. I think the stiff 10 furlongs at Sandown will be ideal for him.

“He’ll enjoy that climb and he should be doing his best work at the end, so I’m very excited.

“With his naturally low head carriage, he’s easy to spot in a race, and he’s a privilege to ride. I’m just lucky to have been on board for those last two victories, and, hopefully, there will be many more to come this summer.”

Egan also appreciates the wider significance of today’s 10-furlong race.

He said: “The Eclipse is the first middle-distance Group One of the European season open to both sexes in which the Classic generation meet their elders.

“It’s a small field, but it’s what you might call a boutique field, as they are all very good, and what makes it even more interesting is that it’s a clash between the last two French Derby winners.

“Mishriff has to give St Mark’s Basilica a bit of weight and it should be a very exciting race to watch, but I think he’s got what it takes. It should be a terrific race and I hope everything goes smoothly.”

Further buoyed by his second-place finish on Mojo Star behind Ayadar in last month’s Derby at Epsom, Egan would like to emulate his father John, still a rider, who enjoyed Group One sprint success on Les Arcs in 2006.

There is also a family tradition to uphold – his late grandfather Dessie Hughes was a top jockey and trainer in Ireland; his mother Sandra became a Grade One-winning trainer and his uncle, Richard Hughes, is a three-times champion jockey. “It would be very special for me, and it would be good for Mishriff, too, as his biggest wins so far have all been abroad,” added Egan.

“I was born in 1999, but I remember when Les Arcs won what was then the Golden Jubilee (Royal Ascot) and then followed up in the July Cup (Newamarket), as his owner Willie McKay had a big party at his home in Doncaster which I went to. I might not remember the races too well, but I can still remember the party!”

It could be party time again.