Francis Graffard was able to let out a huge sigh of relief after friend and chief ally Pierre-Charles Boudot conjured a decisive final effort from Watch Me to edge ahead in a desperately close Prix Rothschild, beating Half Light and the Johnny Murtagh-trained Know It All.
"I think my heart stopped beating in the final 100 metres because for a moment I thought she might only be third," said Graffard, who would surely have been left disappointed by anything less than victory for last year's Coronation Stakes heroine. "But she went again and she won in the style of a very good filly."
Sent off the 4-5 favourite, the eye was drawn to Watch Me throughout, with Boudot exuding maximum confidence as he waited on the rail for space to open up.
But the silhouette of Know It All loomed just as threateningly on the outside and when Boudot launched his challenge inside the two furlong marker, the outcome looked anything but assured, until a final burst of acceleration settled the spoils in Watch Me's favour in the final eight strides.
Boudot said: "She showed herself to be tenacious and a fighter. She's a filly that stays 2,000 metres [a mile and a quarter] and that told in the final strides. We had a bit of luck because if I'd had to take back and come round, that would have made life pretty difficult. She's done it well today and it's great to have her back at this level."
Graffard and owner-breeder Antoinette Tamagni made the decision to bring Watch Me back as a four-year-old after finishing a luckless third behind Villa Marina and Fleeting in last season's Prix de l'Opera and it will be a return to Longchamp that the rest of her season will be geared towards.
"She won't improve again for this – you have to be at the top level to run and win a Group 1 – so we'll see how she comes out of the race," said Graffard. "She's entered in the Jacques le Marois or she could run in the Prix Jean Romanet and then the main objective will be the Prix de l'Opera. But we will enjoy this because it was a long morning for me!"
Alex Pantall was delighted with the performance put up by Godolphin's Half Light who, like the winner, was conceding 8lb in weight-for-age to the three-year-olds in opposition.
"She is an improving filly who had a problem early on but seemed in really good form, which tempted us to make what probably looked a somewhat presumptuous entry," said Pantall. "At one stage she looked like she might start to drop away but she has an enormous heart and she fought bravely."
Know It All took another step forward following an impressive Group 3 success at Leopardstown and the imposing daughter of Japanese star Lord Kanaloa put in a big performance in third.
"She's a lovely big filly with loads of scope," said David Redvers, who was accompanied by Qatar Racing principal Sheikh Fahad. "We're looking forward to her next year as well as this year. She's a Qatar Racing homebred and she's given us a great ride so far.
"I think there's a very strong chance she'll pick up one of these, and that she'll improve with time as she strengthens up."