However, with Hurricane Run taking the Prix Niel Casino Barriere under Kieren Fallon, punters were given an ideal opportunity to compare the relative merits of the two leading contenders for the big race in three weeks.
Shawanda’s effortless victory appeared the more impressive as she cantered all over her rivals before winning eased down by three-quarters of a length from Royal Highness.
But the time of the race, only just quicker than the earlier handicap on the card, told a predictable story of a filly who had been able to boss the race from the front without having to work too hard.
The Aga Khan’s charge took up the lead after two furlongs and was always going easily under Christophe Soumillon.
The Irish Oaks winner was in total command from that point and only had to be pushed out by her rider to land the spoils. Paita was two and a half lengths back in third. Fallon’s mount Dash To The Top, trained by Luca Cumani, finished fourth after being very slowly away while the other British raider David Elsworth’s Something Exciting was last of the six runners.
The Aga Khan said: “Provided she takes this race well she will go for the Arc. She was pretty impressive today.”
“She has something of Sinndar about her - her stride and her ability to accelerate.”
Fillies do not have a good recent record in the Arc. The last to win was Urban Sea in 1993, who finished third in this race en-route.
But trainer Alain Royer-Dupre was exuding quiet confidence afterwards.
Shawanda might have been more impressive in the race but Hurricane Run was the more impressive in appearance.
Not seen since winning the Irish Derby, Andre Fabre was reportedly pleased with the physical development of the colt and it was not hard to see why.
A most imposing individual, there was an understandable hint of his sire Montjeu in his flighty behaviour both before and after the race.
But on the racecourse Hurricane Run looked more professional than he has done before, responding to all of Fallon’s questions in the home straight to win with something up his sleeve, albeit not in any great style.
At the line, Hurricane Run - a 1-10 chance on the pari-mutuel - held a three-length advantage over his stablemate Runaway.
Fallon said: “I think the horse is just coming back to himself. He’s appreciated a break and he had a spring in his step today. He felt a bit flat in Ireland.
“He hasn’t gone away from them but small fields like this just don’t suit him. With a small field and nothing much around him, he idled a lot. He didn’t hardly have a race.”
Alkaased’s Arc hopes were dented when he was beaten by Pride in the Prix Foy Gray d’Albion Barriere.
Cumani’s five-year-old could not peg back Christophe Lemaire’s mount who was completing a double for Alain de Royer-Dupre after Shawanda’s victory.
Pride got a dream run up the far rail in the straight after Geordieland’s pacemaker Kiasma gave way, gaining a couple of lengths on her rivals.
Fallon brought Alkaased with a well-timed challenge but Pride pulled away in the closing stages to win by two and a half lengths. Shirocco was another two lengths away in third.