There was a surprise result to the second French Fast-Track Qualifier for the All-Weather Championships when 16/1 chance Volfango came with a strong run down the outside to catch the 11/4 favourite Bayoun in the €52,000 Listed Prix Saonois over a mile on Saturday at Cagnes-sur-Mer in the south of France.
Volfango, a five-year-old Dutch Art horse, had not run since August last year and in the meantime changed trainers from Freddy Head to Fabrice Vermeulen who has made a good start to 2019.
Maxime Guyon was patient on Volfango, drawn in the outside stall of the 13-strong field in the contest on Polytrack. He tucked his mount in as second last, with Batwan making the running chased by Miracle Des Aigles and Bayoun, ridden by Olivier Peslier and trained by Thierry Lemer, who was unbeaten in 2018.
Miracle Des Aigles, trained by Corine Barande-Barbe and partnered by Cristian Demuro, went to the front after entering the straight before Bayoun came through to lead inside the final furlong and then Volfango, widest of all on the outside, swooped to conquer in the closing stages by a half-length in 1m 34.58s. The third was another three-quarters of a length in arrears.
Volfango qualifies for a free and guaranteed place in the line-up for £150,000 Sun Racing All-Weather Mile Championship on Good Friday, April 19 on £1-million All-Weather Championships Day - the horse has now won two of his three starts on All-Weather surfaces.
Lucky Team, winner of the 2018 £150,000 Sun Racing All-Weather Mile Championship, was a non-runner for today's race.
Guyon commented: "We had a bad draw on the outside and I had to ride him from behind because we did not have a choice to do anything else.
"The pace was good and Volfango was very relaxed in the race. He showed a very good turn of foot in the straight and I am very happy."
Connections have yet to decide whether to come to Lingfield on Good Friday, but Vermeulen said: "We thought he could finish in fourth or fifth place today.
"As he was badly placed in the stalls, it was decided to hold him up and see how he got on. We will discuss what to do in the future."