Anthony Van Dyck (navy) holds out Stradivarius in the Prix Foy (Image: France Galop/scoopdyga.com)
This year's Lexus Melbourne Cup may have a true headline act with topweight Anthony Van Dyck claiming the prized scalp of champion stayer Stradivarius in France's major lead-up race for next month's Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (2400m).
Anthony Van Dyck won his first race since last year's English Derby in Sunday's Group 2 Prix Foy (2400m), withstanding Stradivarius in a drag race down the Longchamp straight by a short neck.
Anthony Van Dyck's final 400 metres of 21.64 seconds was three hundredths of a second superior to Stradivarius, the more recognised two-miler of the pair.
However, it's a 3200-metre race on the other side of the world that could be calling Anthony Van Dyck with his trainer Aidan O'Brien signaling pre-race that the Caulfield Cup and Lexus Melbourne Cups could be on his agenda.
And post-race respected French racing publication Jour de Galop declared Antthony Van Dyck's Foy victory was a "preparatory" race for the Melbourne Spring Carnival where he has been allocated 58.5kg for the $8m Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 3.
WATCH: Anthony Van Dyck wins the Prix Foy
Winning rider Mickael Barzalona wasn't thinking about Australia's premier handicaps after steering Anthony Van Dyck to victory in the Foy, declaring the horse "has every right to a place in the line-up for the Arc".
"He gets into a good rhythm and just keeps galloping in a straight and true line," Barzalona said.
Barzalona's tactics from the front were pivotal as he controlling the tempo of the Prix Foy – the first 1400 metres run 6.95 seconds slower than the Group 1 Prix Vermeille (2400m) for fillies and mares and 10.08 seconds slower than the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris (2400m) for three-year-olds earlier on the Longchamp card.
“We knew there was no early speed in the race and hatched a plan to move forward early. We jumped off easily and I found myself in front, so I let him find a rhythm and go along bit by bit," Barzalona said.
"I had a bit of trouble getting him to stretch out, but once he sensed the danger of Stradivarius he fought back gamely and found more with every stride.
"We know Stradivarius makes up ground easily, but sometimes gets caught for a bit of acceleration so I wasn’t too worried. I gave him a breather turning for home before winding him up and I think he enjoyed that."
Anthony Van Dyck became O'Brien's second winner of the Prix Foy, his other success came in 2014 with fellow Derby winner Ruler of the World.
O'Brien will have to make a decision on whether Anthony Van Dyck travels to Australia within the next 72 hours with horses entering quarantine in England and Ireland on September 16 ahead of their arrival into Melbourne on October 2.
It's expected O'Brien will send up to five horses to Melbourne for this year's Spring Carnival and Anthony Van Dyck, who shares Caulfield Cup topweight status with stablemate Japan, could be joined by stablemate Mogul who won the Grand Prix de Paris.
Mogul is nominated for a series of races around the world including the $5m Caulfield Cup (2400m) and $5m Cox Plate (2040m).