Sky Power lunged late to deny British challenger Winter Reprise in a thrilling renewal of the Prix Lyphard at Deauville.
A maximum field of 14 went to post for the nine-and-a-half-furlong Listed contest – the first of three Fast-Track Qualifiers staged in France this winter en route to All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield on April 2.
David Menuisier’s Winter Reprise was one of two cross-Channel raiders, along with Ivan Furtado’s Teston – and after making much of the running, he dug deep from the home turn to hold most of his challengers at bay.
However, just when it looked as though he might have done enough to claim victory, the Gael Barbedette-trained Sky Power flashed home in the hands of Stephane Pasquier to win the day by a short neck – earning himself a start in the Betway Easter Classic on Good Friday.
Andre Fabre-trained favourite Romanciere finished seventh, but was beaten little over a length in a blanket finish.
Barbedette said: “Stephane gave me a fright – he is very calm, and I tend to get very nervous! What a race, what a ride – bravo Stephane!
“It is a super result. It was stressful to watch – he was in between horses, and it wasn’t easy to see him coming up between them to get his head in front.”
Pasquier added: “I know the horse by heart. He has a capacity to accelerate that is not common in horses, and he showed that today.
“When he relaxes as he did here, he is able to win the big races.”