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By Martin Kelly and Tom Peacock, PA Sport. Last Updated: 04/06/10 1:58pm
Vision d'Etat (left) wins a thriller.
Eric Libaud added further international spice to Royal Ascot 2009 as the Frenchman sent out the ultra-consistent Vision D'Etat to claim the Prince Of Wales's Stakes.
Australia and America both struck on the opening afternoon, and France quickly followed suit on day two with last year's Prix du Jockey Club winner fending off 6-4 favourite Tartan Bearer by half a length.
The four-year-old has had his nose in front in eight of his 10 career starts, with his only unplaced effort coming when fifth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe last October.
And a return to Paris in the autumn is now firmly on the agenda, with Coral and Ladbrokes trimming Libaud's representative into 12-1.
Libaud commented: "The Arc was always going to be his target this year and that is where he will go. He will have a break first and then go for a prep race in the Prix Foy.
"He is a better horse this year and has grown into himself.
"The crop this year doesn't look as good and he must go to the Arc with a very good chance."
Libaud has enjoyed international success in Hong Kong and Dubai, but this was first runner and winner at the Royal meeting.
Olivier Peslier was enjoying his first ride on Vision D'Etat and bided his time on his new partner - who was racing without a tongue strap after connections failed to declare it.
That mistake proved no barrier though, as Vision D'Etat ran on entering the final furlong to be well on top of last year's Derby runner-up Tartan Bearer at the death.
Libaud added: "Of all the winners I've had in the world this is the best one.
"This is certainly the nicest and best victory I've ever achieved.
"I knew it was going to being to be difficult from last place but I could see the horse was going well and Olivier had told me the straight at Ascot is long, so I was quietly confident.
"I was not worried about the lack of pace and he is a horse who always finishes his races.
"We have always fitted him with a tongue strap since his early days but perhaps he does not need it now!"
Peslier was notching his 13th Royal Ascot success, and was collecting in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes for the second time following Ouija Board's win three years ago.
Peslier said: "He's a typical French horse. When you are one or two lengths behind it's not a big problem because he's got a good turn of foot. That was a big help for me.
"Today is wonderful and we should just celebrate the victory.
"I have had many successes here, including in this race, and to win here again feels very good.
"I was just behind the lead. My horse is not lazy and I just took a bit of time. I needed a chance and he moved out well.
"The trainer told me it was better if he came late and the race was perfect for me."
Tartan Bearer made a eyecatching return after nine months off the track at Sandown in April, but failed to build on that with his second-place finish under Ryan Moore.
Since saddling Stagecraft to victory in the race in 1991, his trainer Sir Michael Stoute has now sent out 17 beaten runners in the Prince Of Wales's.
Stoute said: "He ran well and I'm making no excuses for him.
"I think a better pace would have suited all of them. He's pretty widely entered up but let's wait and see."
Libaud's fellow Frenchman Jean-Claude Rouget was responsible for third home, Never On Sunday, who was only a head behind Tartan Bearer.
Rouget, the French champion trainer-elect, said: "I was not surprised to see him run that well, although perhaps he is a little bit tender (inexperienced) for this competition at Group One level."
The luckless Twice Over was also involved in a bunched finish and was a neck back in fourth place as trainer Henry Cecil chases his 71st Royal Ascot victory.
Jockey Tom Queally said of Twice Over: "I was disappointed he didn't win but he ran a hell of a race. He quickened up to win but he maybe just got outstayed."