The Nick Williams-trained Urbain De Sivola finished eighthPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Esmondo at the double as Sivola struggles
Report: France, Sunday
Auteuil: Prix Renaud du Vivier (Group 1 Hurdle) 2m3½f, 4yo
ESMONDO (Guillaume Macaire/Bertrand Lestrade) justified heavy market support to land France's version of the Triumph Hurdle, holding off Defi D'Anjou and Gemix in thrilling battle after the final flight.
But there was disappointment for the Nick Williams team as Urbain De Sivola and James Reveley came home a distant last of the eight finishers.
Esmondo had been expected to try and make all after a dominant display of front-running in the the last important trial for the race three weeks ago, the Prix Pierre de Lassus.
However Fabien Dehez set out to make it a real test in the heavy ground aboard Unique Des Sources, while Lestrade sat third on the inside of runners and only put Esmondo into the race turning for home.
He had failed to shake his pursuers coming to the last but, despite jumping to his right under pressure, Esmondo proved a length too good for Defi D'Anjou up the run in.
The son of Sholokhov becomes only the third horse to win this race following on from the three-year-old championship hurdle, the Prix Cambaceres.
"As I've told everybody, the horse has really changed and after doing a lot of work at home with him we've found the key to him," said Macaire. "Bertrand rode a good race tactically, injecting pace at the right time."
Urbain De Sivola had proved his liking for Auteuil on three visits in recent months.
But when the pace gradually began to increase going away from the stands, Reveley was always struggling to hold his position, the pair eventually coming home in their own time after losing touch approaching two out.
"I think the ground was fine for him, it was very testing," said Williams. "He just struggled with the pace. It's a big disappointment."