Japanese equine star Orfevre was promoted to favourite for the world's most prestigious middle distance race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, after winning the influential Arc trial the Group Two Prix Foy at Longchamp here on Sunday.
The 2011 Japanese Triple Crown winner -- who will bid to end a 32-year win drought for Japan which has seen three of their 12 runners finish in the frame -- came home ahead of three-time European Group One winner Meandre in a slowly-run five runner race.
Some bookmakers made him favourite on the back of the win - William Hill make him 4/1 favourite - but some remained loyal to last year's Arc winner, German filly Danedream, who will bid to become the first horse to land successive Arcs since Alleged in 1978-79.
However, despite the victory leaving some question marks about how it would translate to a far bigger field and a rougher race in the Arc on October 7, the four-year-old colt impressed his rider, crack 31-year-old Belgian Christophe Soumillon.
"I was very happy with the performance, the pace was a bit slow and he was a bit fresh but I just wanted to keep track of him on his first time at Longchamp," said Soumillon, who has won two Arcs on Dalakhani in 2003 and the remarkable filly Zarkava in 2008.
"In two strides I got exactly what you need from an Arc de Triomphe horse. Its just what you want from a horse three weeks before the Arc.
"Hopefully he can improve a bit as he needs to improve to win an Arc but the trainer has done a perfect job so far."
Zarkava's connections will hope last year's Arc runner-up Shareta emulates her after the latter won the Group One Prix Vermeille -- the race Zarkava won in 2008 before winning the Arc -- here under Christophe Lemaire.
Her victory saw trainer Alain de Royer Dupre extend his record number of wins in the race to seven while owner His Highness the Aga Khan was winning it for the sixth time to edge to within one of the record for a winning owner of seven held by the late Marcel Boussac.
"I was pleased with the good pace set in the race as Shareta doesn't have great finishing speed so it suited her stamina," said de Royer Dupre.
"The only thing that would affect her running in the Arc is if it were soft going as she really doesn't act in it."
French Derby winner Saonois will be a supplementary entry for the Arc after he made a successful reappearance after three months off as he won the Group Two Prix Niel.
He produced an impressive finishing burst under Antoine Hamelin to win the Niel, which from 1996 to 2006 saw the winner of the race go on to win the Arc seven times while Peintre Celebre finished runner-up in the 1997 Niel but went on to collect the Arc.
Saonois, trained by Jean-Pierre Gauvin who has a stable of around 40 horses in unfashionable Lyon, beat the Aga Khan-owned Bayrir, who was returning to Europe after winning a Group One in America, by 1 1/4 lengths.
Last Train, trained by seven-time Arc winning handler Andre Fabre, failed to emulate his sire Rail Link's success in this race before going on to win the 2006 Arc as he came in third a short head behind Bayrir.
Gauvin explained that Saonois's more conclusive win here than in the messy finish to the French Derby was down to the extra quarter of a mile of the Niel.
"He's better over a mile and a half and he was a little free and fresh today but he showed great acceleration and gets better each time he runs.
"He has heart, a great engine and great morale," said Gauvin, who has persuaded the owners to pay out the 100,000 euros fee for the colt to be supplemented for the Arc.