Races can go in and out of fashion but the Group 1 Prix Ganay (2100m) at Longchamp on Sunday is currently surfing the wave of having produced the winner of the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in each of the last two seasons, so the all-the-way success of Mare Australis for Andre Fabre and Pierre-Charles Boudot should be taken as a serious performance.
Boudot looked likely to have a fight on his hands as Mogul and Christophe Soumillon ranged alongside approaching the two-furlong marker but Mare Australis found plenty as his partner wound him up for a sustained effort, while it was Gold Trip who came out of the pack to finish runner-up by a length and three-quarters.
The Ganay is run over 1m2½f but Fabre's pre-race comments made clear that Gestut Schlenderhan's son of Australia would be campaigned over a mile and a half going forward, and he was quick to identify the Arc as the main objective with a four-year-old making only his sixth career start.
"He'll be a better horse in the autumn and I always thought he was a horse for the Arc," said Fabre. "He's just as good over both distances."
Asked why Mare Australis had been campaigned so sparingly, Fabre added: "He had no issues, he was just backward. I don't know if he'll run in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud or just a prep race and then the Arc."
Paddy Power cut Mare Australis to 25-1 (from 66) for the Arc, while Ladbrokes were more impressed and introduced him as a 16-1 chance in their market.
The improved performance of Gold Trip, well adrift of Mare Australis and winner Skalleti in the Prix d'Harcourt on his return last month, provided reassurance to his connections as well as a boost to the form of last season's Arc, in which he finished fourth.
"He was a little short of his best for his comeback and has come on for that run," said trainer Fabrice Chappet. "He has put that right and showed, as he did last year, that he's a high-class horse."
Mogul was another length and three-quarters back in third and, while this was a definite improvement on his comeback in the Dubai Sheema Classic, he still appeared to be carrying some condition beforehand.
Half an hour later Ebaiyra got the better of Raabihah in a slowly run Prix Allez France that was nevertheless high on quality.
"She hasn't had more than a breeze on the turf at home and she should improve but what I really liked was that she was much more balanced than she showed last year," said winning trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre. "The plan was to go to New York for a Grade 2 next month but we'll see. The project will be to try to win a Group 1 with her."
Ebaiyra received a 33-1 quote for the Arc, while Royer-Dupre will have to try to avoid a clash with stablemate Valia, who has been pencilled in for the Prix Corrida on May 26.
The bumble bee hoops of the Moussac family are ingrained in the memory with the victory of Pat Eddery aboard Trempolino in the 1987 Arc and, in Prix de l'Avre winner Fenelon, the colours are carried by another mile-and-a-half colt worth dreaming about in relation to the first Sunday in October.
"I train this horse for a lot of nice people and it means a lot to win because he's my best colt and he showed it today," said trainer Nicolas Clement. "There's still plenty of improvement and he'll be a great horse in the autumn. I wish the French Derby was still over a mile and a half."
🏆 Mare Australis (@PCBOUDOT / A. Fabre) remporte brillamment le Prix Ganay (Gr. 1) à @paris_longchamp !— Equidia (@equidia) May 2, 2021
🥈 Gold Trip (@pasquito60 / @ChappetRacing)
🥉 Mogul (C. Soumillon / A. P. O'Brien) pic.twitter.com/w8cJD32gci