Wild Illusion aiming to hit a winning note in Prix de l’Opera

British raider leads the way in ParisLongchamp Group One

  • Saturday 06 October
  • News
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Charlie Appleby is hopeful Wild Illusion can claim another top-level success in the Prix de l’Opera at ParisLongchamp.

The daughter of Dubawi won the Prix Marcel Boussac on Arc day last season.

She began the current campaign by finishing fourth in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, second in the Oaks at Epsom and second again in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Wild Illusion rediscovered the winning trail when dropped to a mile and a quarter for the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood and she sticks to that distance on her return to France this weekend.

Appleby said: “She came out of Goodwood in great order and hopefully she goes to Paris with a great chance.

“I think we saw at Goodwood that 10 furlongs is right up her street and I can’t see any negatives, to be honest.

“With the way the weather is, we’re quite relaxed. She has form on quick ground and slow ground, so we’re not too worried either way.”

Wild Illusion is the likely favourite in a 16-strong field, with the William Haggas-trained Urban Fox, Sir Michael Stoute’s Desert Diamond and Saeed bin Suroor’s Winter Lightning also making the trip from Britain.

Aidan O’Brien saddles Magic Wand, last year’s winner Rhododendron and Athena.

He said: “Magic Wand is in good form. She ran a very good race there in the Vermeille and we don’t think the drop in trip will bother her.

“Rhododendron seems to have come out of the Irish Champion well and Athena ran a good race in the Irish Champion and seems in good form since.”

Lady Frankel was only beaten half a length into third place 12 months ago and trainer Andre Fabre is expecting her to be involved once more.

“I quite fancy Lady Frankel. She’s a good filly and I thought she should have won the race last year, she was very unlucky,” said Fabre.

“She’s been lightly raced this season for a reason, I’ve been aiming for this time of year.”

The first of six Group Ones on a stellar card is the Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac.

Appleby saddles Wild Illusion’s half-sister Ceratonia, who was narrowly beaten by the reopposing Rocques in a Group Three here last month.

“She’s a half-sister to Wild Illusion, but they are slightly different types,” said Appleby.

“Wild Illusion wears cheek pieces, which definitely help her, whereas Ceratonia has worn a hood and we’re taking it off this weekend.

“We were happy with her last run, I think that experience will bring her on and hopefully she has a live chance.”

Richard Hannon’s Star Terms, Bin Suroor’s Dubai Beauty and O’Brien’s Pink Dogwood are also in the mix.

O’Brien said: “She’s progressed with every run and won in Gowran last time. She’s been in good form since then.

“We always liked her and she’s had three runs now.”

The juvenile colts get their chance to shine in the following Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.

The likely favourite is Freddy Head’s Anodor, who is unbeaten in two starts to date, while the raiding party is headed by the Hannon-trained Boitron, who has won each of his three races in the colours of Middleham Park Racing.

Middleham Park’s racing manager, Tim Palin, said: “We hope he’s high-class. We’ve circumvented Group Threes and Group Twos to pitch him in here and I think he deserves to be there.

“The horse is in good order. We own 50 per cent and Gerard Augustin-Normand owns 50 per cent and he’ll run in his colours this weekend.

“It was either come here or go to the Dewhurst and to be honest, the Dewhurst does look Too Darn Hot this year!

“We’re taking on the likes of Ballydoyle and Godolphin, which is an honour itself.”

The final Group One of the day is the Qatar Prix de la Foret, in which Head’s Polydream and George Scott’s stable star James Garfield renew rivalry after finishing first and second in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville.

James Garfield has since disappointed in the Sprint Cup at Haydock, however.

Speaking on his website, Scott said: “James Garfield has been in tremendous form.

“He’s been drawn in stall 11, which is a little higher than I would have liked, but it’s certainly not the end of the world.

“Frankie Dettori has a wonderful relationship with the horse and I’m looking forward to seeing him get back aboard

“The easy seven furlongs of Longchamp should suit him well and I’m expecting a big run.”

O’Brien runs Gustav Klimt, who was a close-up third in the Sprint Cup on his most recent outing.

He said: “He’s in good form. He’s obviously going back up to seven furlongs, but we were delighted with his run the last day.

“We think he’s still on the upgrade.”

Wild Illusion aiming to hit a winning note in Prix de l’Opera
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