Volfango strikes again in Prix Saonois

Volfango mowed down Irish challenger Bowerman to claim back-to-back victories in the Listed Prix Saonois (3.50pm local time, eight runners) at Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, on Saturday.

The mile Polytrack contest is a Fast-Track Qualifier and Volfango has gained a guaranteed start in the £150,000 Bombardier All-Weather Mile Championship at Lingfield Park on Finals Day, Good Friday, April 10.

Trained by Fabrice Vermeulen, Volfango did not run on Finals Day in 2019 but acquitted himself well in Pattern races on turf following his Prix Saonois victory, including a fourth in the G2 Badener Meile at Baden-Baden, Germany, in May.

Volfango was an impressive winner on the All-Weather at Deauville in December and came into today's contest on the back of a third in a mile conditions race at Cagnes-sur-Mer on January 14.

The six-year-old was sent off a 48/10 chance under Maxime Guyon, with the market headed by 9/5 favourite Bowerman (Ado McGuinness IRE/Pierre Charles-Boudot), twice an impressive winner at Dundalk last month.

Bowerman recovered from a slow start to race in fourth on the outside as an even pace was set by Nadeem Alward (Michel Krebs/Cristian Demuro), while Volfango was held up for his customary late challenge.

The favourite made headway in the straight to lead passing the furlong-marker but had no answer to Volfango's turn of foot in the final 100 yards. The winning margin was a cosy three quarters of a length, with a further length back to Rocquemont (Christophe Escuder/Christophe Soumillon) in third.

Vermeulen said: "It was very good because for once, they went a good pace. I don't like my horse to get out of his rhythm and I think it is best to ride him from behind. Volfango is a horse who likes to be ridden cold.

"The last time, he disappointed a little but he was ridden a bit too much and came back with a grazed fetlock. I don't know if he did it before or during the race but we took care of it and, with a lot of pace today, it made the difference."

Ado McGuinness said: "We are very happy with Bowerman. He ran a blinder and I cannot complain, he was just beaten by a better horse on the day. 

"We had a long travel down in a short space of time and he was a bit slowly away from the gates, but I can't fault him. 

"It is more than likely that he will go straight to Finals Day now. I suspect we will make an entry for the mile race and the Easter Classic, and then we will work out which is the easiest option to go for."

Volfango well on top at the line, picture All Weather Championships