Andre Fabre has an eighth Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe success in his sights after Manduro proved his stamina over a mile and a half in the Prix Foy at Longchamp.
On an informative afternoon in Paris, the five-year-old sailed home under just hands-and-heels riding by Stephane Pasquier to beat the top-class filly Mandesha by two and a half lengths.
Geoff Wragg’s Dragon Dancer was a further three lengths adrift in the five-runner race, run at a true gallop thanks to the winner’s pacemaker, Sommertag.
Manduro, officially rated the best horse in the world, is now the 5-2 joint-favourite alongside Authorized with Coral and totesport for the Arc on October 7 after winning his fifth race on the bounce.
Manduro, who will have to be supplemented for the Arc, is quoted by William Hill and Stan James at 3-1, while Ladbrokes offer 7-2 alongside Paddy Power.
Fabre said of the 4-11 favourite: “You don’t need to be impressive in a trial race, you just need to win it quietly which is what he has done.
“The trip was not a concern beforehand and he has got it well and of course we will think of supplementing him for the Arc now.”
Owner Baron Georg Von Ullmann added: “Olivier Peslier is on standby to ride my horse in the Arc.
“If the Khalid Abdullah team run Zambezi Sun and Mr Pasquier rides then Mr Peslier will ride my horse.”
Irish Derby winner Soldier Of Fortune (9-4) was also trimmed in the ante-post lists after his convincing success under Johnny Murtagh in the Prix Niel.
The last three winners of the race have gone on to score in the Arc and Aidan O’Brien’s three-year-old is now a top-priced 11-2 with Coral after scoring by a length and a half.
William Hill, Stan James and Paddy Power offer 5-1, with Ladbrokes and Cashmans at 4s after the Irish raider quickened following a flick from the whip to deny Sagara, with Pascal Bary’s Zambezi Sun third.
O’Brien said: “The ground was totally different to what it was in the Irish Derby, but he handled it just the same.
“Obviously we’ll be looking at the Arc, although we will just have to see for the moment.”
Murtagh added: “He’ll improve for the race as he’d been off a long time.
“Once he got going I gave him a smack with my left hand and he was off. The pacemaker did his job and got me to the two-furlong marker and my fellow did the job in the style of a high-class horse.
“He’s improved from Epsom and has now won an Irish Derby and a Prix Niel. He’s got a great attitude and a great heart.
“He loved the track but did get a bit tired in the last couple of hundred yards.”
Part-owner Derrick Smith added: “Hopefully we’ll be back here in three weeks for the Arc with him and Dylan Thomas.”
Passage of Time pleased Henry Cecil on her return from a break following treatment for a throat abscess by occupying third place in the Group One Prix Vermeille.
The Musidora winner had been off the track since disappointing in the Oaks in June, where she was sent off the 9-4 favourite but dropped away to finish eighth.
Cecil blamed that below-par effort on her throat problem, and sent her to the Parisian suburbs for the start of what he hopes will be a fruitful autumn campaign.
And in the late summer sunshine Richard Hughes exuded confidence on the 4-1 shot, riding her close to the pace before asking for an effort turning for home.
The Khalid Abdullah-owned filly failed to quicken as anticipated, however, with the Francois Rohaut-trained Mrs Lindsay forging clear to initiate a double for Murtagh, holding the fast-finishing Prix de Diane winner West Wind by three-quarters of a length.
Passage Of Time was the same distance back in third, and Cecil said: “She’s run very well as she’s been off a long time and the ground was plenty fast enough.
“She fell to pieces when we treated her for her throat abscess and was like a skeleton.
“She’ll improve from the race and she’s on her way back. The Arc, the Prix de l’Opera, the Champion and the Breeders’ Cup are all options and hopefully she will stay in training next year.”
Winning owner Bettina Jenney said: “I’m absolutely delighted and it’s been a great weekend as George Strawbridge is my neighbour in Pennsylvania.
“He won the St Leger with Lucarno on Saturday and he keeps his mares at my farm (Derry Meeting Farm).”
Dandy Nicholls struck with Tax Free in the Group Three Prix du Petit Couvert, but Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Ebor winner of last summer, Mudawin, was out of the frame in the Prix Gladiateur.