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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

What the trainers say as Wild Illusion and Magic Wand head stellar cast in Opera

William Buick and Nassau Stakes winner Wild Illusion return to the winner’s enclosure
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3.50 Longchamp
Prix de l'Opera Longines (Group 1) | 3yo+ | fillies & mares | 1m2f | ATR

Carlos Laffon-Parias has declared the Prix de l'Opera has a deeper field than the Arc itself and – even allowing for the superstar Enable and Sea Of Class aiming at the big race – it is hard to argue with the breadth of quality on display. 

Wild Illusion bids to join an illustrious group of fillies to win at this meeting in successive seasons and, while her forcing win 12 months in the Marcel Boussac came at Chantilly, the daughter of Dubawi has all the credentials to put up a bold show on the basis of her Nassau Stakes victory at Goodwood. 

Aidan O'Brien's Rhododendron won this race 12 months ago but has struggled to recapture that level of form in recent runs and has been passed over by Ryan Moore in favour of stablemate Magic Wand, who lost out narrowly to Kitesurf in the Prix Vermeille over an extra two furlongs last month. 

Of the home challengers, Lady Frankel was an unlucky third in the Opera at Chantilly and has been trained for this race, while With You should be suited by a return to a mile and a quarter after a pair of fine Group 1 efforts over a mile at Chantilly. 

Urban Fox has already got one Group 1 victory to her name after landing the Juddmonte Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh in June

The quality doesn't stop there, with Urban Fox bidding to add to her win in the Pretty Polly Stakes and the Francis Graffard-trained pair, Homerique and My Sister Nat, both rapidly improving. 

All those names and we haven't even mentioned Laffon Parias's interest in the race, as Castellar bids to emulate her brother Recoletos in winning at the highest level. 

What they say

William Haggas, trainer of Urban Fox
She's a very genuine, game filly. I could've done with her being in stall five and Wild Illusion in 14 but that wasn't to be. I think Wild Illusion will be hard to beat.

Andre Fabre, trainer of Lady Frankel
She's seasonal filly and I've kept her fresh for the end of the year. With the way she's been training, I'm confident she's going to be close.

Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Rhododendron, Athena and Magic Wand
Magic Wand lost out narrowly in the Vermeille last time and is dropping down in trip, which we think might suit. Athena has won a Grade 1 over the distance in the US and ran a good race when fourth in the Irish Champion Stakes. She's been in good form since and so has Rhododendron, who wasn't far behind Athena at Leopardstown.

Peter Schiergen, trainer of Navaro Girl
She's in good form and has looked well in the mornings but it's a hard race. We'll look for the places because I think it might be too strong for her to win.

Carlos Laffon-Parias, trainer of Castellar
She's very well and I have confidence in her but I'm not naive enough to think it will be easy. At least I have Olivier and a good draw on my side.

Francis Graffard, trainer of Homerique and My Sister Nat
I’ve been very happy with Homerique’s preparation and she's a filly I've always thought has a lot of quality. My Sister Nat won very well here the other day and deserves to take her chance on a track she likes. I wouldn’t want rain for her but Homerique wouldn’t mind slightly softer conditions.

Charlie Appleby, trainer of Wild Illusion
Her prep has gone well and she again runs over her optimum trip. I’m relaxed about the ground — she’s run well on good to firm and good to soft — and she’s got a nice draw. 

Jean-Pierre Carvalho, trainer of Well Timed
She ran fine in the Vermeille but my fear that 2,400 metres [a mile and a half] around Longchamp would be a little be far for her proved correct. This should suit her better and she's well drawn. Against that, it’s an even better field than the Vermeille.

Freddy Head, trainer of With You
I don’t see the return to 2,000 metres [a mile and a quarter] as inconveniencing her as she ran very well in both the Prix Saint Alary and the Prix de Diane. She has been working well.

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With the way she has been training, I'm confident she's going to be close
E.W. Terms
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