Top French trainer André Fabre had mixed fortunes at ParisLongchamp on Monday, as French racing resumer after a break of almost two months due to Covid-19.
Strict social distancing and hygiene measures were in place on track, with all jockeys wearing masks along with the limited personnel on track.
The card included acknowledged trials for the first French classics of the season and Fabre saddled hot favourite Victor Ludorum in the one-mile Prix de Fontainebleau. However, this Group 1 winning son of Shamardal could only finish third behind outsider The Summit, who made all the running.
The Fabre runner raced keenly in the early stages as Mickael Barzalona struggled to find any cover, with The Summit setting the gallop from the off.
The leader was still travelling well within himself as the field turned for home, with Arc-winning jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot seemingly having a bit still up his sleeve as he pushed his mount on with about two furlongs to run.
Victor Ludorum could not go with him and only Ecrivain – who did not enjoy the clearest of passages in the straight – looked a danger, eventually having to settle for a fast-finishing second. The favourite was only third.
The Fabre-trained Tropbeau advertised her classic credentials with victory in the Prix de la Grotte, also over a mile.
Having been third to Millisle and Raffle Prize in the Cheveley Park Stakes last season, Tropbeau brought the strongest form credentials to the Group 3 contest, but had been expected to face a test from Khayzaraan.
The Freddy Head-trained runner jumped out in front and appeared to be travelling smoothly – only to empty alarmingly two furlongs from home and ultimately finish heavily eased at the rear of the field.
Up front, Tropbeau answered every question for Mickael Barzalona when hitting the front, narrowly accounting for Dream And Do and Tickle Me Green.
Sottsass could finish only fourth as Shaman made every yard of the running to lift the Prix d’Harcourt at ParisLongchamp.
All eyes were on the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Sottsass after a 2019 campaign that saw him win the French Derby and finish third to Waldgeist and Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
However, he never looked like troubling winner Shaman, who benefited from a fine front-running ride by Maxime Guyon.
The Carlos Laffon-Parias-trained winner was no slouch himself last term, beating Sottsass in the Prix La Force before finishing second in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains and also the Prix Jacques le Marois.
Trying 10 furlongs for the first time, he bounced back to his best in this Group 2 event, kicking on in the straight to repel the late challenge of Way To Paris, with Simona only narrowly beaten in third.
Batwan swooped late to land the five-furlong Prix de Saint-Georges.
Sestilio Jet was bidding to defend his title in the Group 3 heat, but he was under pressure some way out as Batwan, who finished second last year, was settled in third through the early stages.
Maxime Guyon’s mount hit the front inside the final furlong, edging in front at the line to win on his first outing in an exactly a year.