Channel dug deep to claim Classic glory in the Longines-sponsored Prix De Diane at Chantilly.
A strong field of 16 fillies went to post for the French Oaks, with Alain de Royer-Dupre’s Siyarafina the red-hot favourite to maintain her unbeaten record, while British hopes were carried by Roger Varian’s Nausha and John Gosden’s Entitle – first and second in the Musidora at York last month.
In a race run at a modest pace, Nausha met traffic problems early on and pulled fiercely for her head for the remainder of the contest before fading out of contention.
Frankie Dettori rode a patient race aboard Entitle – a half-sister to the brilliant Enable – but she was never in a position to throw down a serious challenge and finished in midfield.
Siyarafina was trapped wide for much of the 10-furlong journey and while she looked poised to throw down a serious challenge early in the home straight, she ultimately failed to pick up the leaders and it was Francis-Henri Graffard’s 9-1 shot Channel who emerged victorious under Pierre-Charles Boudot – just denying Commes in a thrilling finish.
Graffard told Sky Sports Racing: “It’s hard to realise (what has happened) – it’s just unbelievable.
“I’m so pleased. My team works so hard every day and I was saying to my wife we do this job to live these kind of moments, but then when you live these moments you think ‘why do I do this job, it’s too much pressure’. I know why I’m doing it now.
“She won a good trial for the race and she did it so nicely and today was perfect.”