Having finished third in the Listed Fairway Stakes at Newmarket on his latest appearance, Charlie Appleby’s Al Hilalee was the 15-8 favourite for the Group Two Prix Hocquart and was soon bowling along at the head of affairs in the hands of James Doyle.
He looked in danger of being mugged when Soft Light charged home from the rear, but the Godolphin runner clung on by a neck.
Doyle told Sky Sports Racing: “That was the plan – to get him out on the lead.
“I was a little bit nervous when I committed him as he did run around a little bit, but there’s a big crowd and a lot to take in here today.
“Let’s hope he can keep building from there. It was a good performance.”
Making his first appearance in France, Azano tracked the pacesetting favourite Anodor for much of the one-mile contest before taking over the lead as the market leader faded.
Pizzicato finished strongly, but Gosden’s charge had a length in hand at the line.
Havlin said: “He’s a horse with a very high cruising speed and he likes to get on with things. I thought we went quick enough down the back, but he settled into a nice rhythm and was very brave in the last 100 yards.
“He’s sort of perfected what he likes to do. When you hold him back he gets himself in a muddle, but when you let him get on with it he can finish out pretty strong and look pretty impressive.
“They’ve dropped the Prix Jean Prat to seven furlongs now and he has more than enough speed to drop back to seven. A straight seven at Deauville will be right up his street I would think.”