Top-class action returns in France as Guyon and Batwan land Longchamp opener
Champion French jockey Maxime Guyon and Batwan landed the Group 3 Prix de Saint-Georges at Longchamp on Monday as top-class racing in Europe returned.
Guyon kept the Philippe Sogorb-trained runner in a handy position on the outer in the curtain-raiser. He made his challenge on the front two, Ken Colt and last year's winner Sestilio Jet, in the final two furlongs and quickened into a lead.
He then held on bravely in the final few yards to hold off the fast-finishing Gold Vibe.
Batwan was making his first start since finishing second to Sestilio Jet in this last season. Sestilio Jet, sent off 9-2 second favourite, finished third. Favourite Duhail, representing leading trainer Andre Fabre, finished eighth.
Guyon, equipped with a blue face mask, punched the air after victory in the sprint, his 34th winner this season.
Guyon said: "It's proper soft ground. Obviously it's fresh ground but it's still testing.
"The first half of the race went well and I was able to take a lead off Ken Colt before asking him [Batwan] gradually for his effort. He was brave at the end there."
A return to Longchamp for the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye on Arc day is Batwan's key target for the season, according to his trainer.
"I'm delighted with that," added Sogorb. "I always had a bit of trouble training him at two and three and he had a bit of temperament about him.
"Gelding him [at three] and, above all, dropping back in trip has been the key to him. We sent him for a holiday at his owner Monsieur Pariente's farm for six months last year and he has come back a much stronger horse.
"I think he has the turn of foot to be a very good sprinter. In terms of his programme it's easy. He'll run in the Prix du Gros-Chene, then come back in the autumn for the prep race [Prix du Petit-Couvert] and then the Abbaye."
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