French Derby (Fra-I) winner Dalakhani won Sunday's Prix Niel Casino Barriere d'Enghien (Fra-II) over Doyen, with English Derby (Eng-I) winner Kris Kin finishing third in what was no more than a prep for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fra-I) on Oct. 5.
Owned by the Aga Khan and trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, Dalakhani had been regarded as one of the best 3-year-olds seen in France in many years until his loss to stablemate Alamshar in the Irish Derby (Ire-I).
Under Christophe Soumillon, Dalakhani led inside the final furlong and had to work hard to hold off Doyen by a length. The winner is now 9-4 for the Arc with Doyen 7-2 and Kris Kin at 10-1.
Sir Michael Stoute said he was pleased with the effort of Kris Kin and feels the colt will move forward off this race. "I think the two that beat us are good horses," he told the BBC. "He's lazy at home and needed a race to fine-tune him. Kieren said he gave him a great feel and he travelled really well. He just got tired in the last furlong and a half.
"Maybe the other two will improve as well, but he came here a little heavy today. He's had a nice break and he doesn't do much at home, so there's improvement in him."
The Aga Khan said: "I always said I was aiming Dalakhani at an autumn campaign and it's so far, so good. He's got a very, very good turn of foot. I hope he will come on for this race. He hasn't raced since June and the Niel is not the Arc."
Asked if Alamshar was an Arc possibility, he replied, "I wouldn't say no; probably for the moment Dalakhani will be the runner."
Dettori was happy with Doyen's race and expects to ride him back in the Arc. "He's a very, very good horse and I knew beforehand that we would have a chance. My fellow just lacked a little bit of experience and remember this is a prep for the Arc, and if there is a trainer who can get one length out of him for the next race, it is Andre (Fabre). Christophe got a shock when I got upsides him and all we need now is a good draw in the Arc and he will run a big race."