Group 1 Prix L’Opera Next Weekend

French horse racing blurrfrom the French PMU

We look at the likely leading contenders for the Prix l’Opera on ‘Arc’ Day (4 October) at Longchamp.  [This is typically a major prep race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare turf.]


Fancy Blue

One of multiple Group One winners for first-season trainer Donnacha O’Brien in 2020, Fancy Blue returns to France for the first time since her G1 Prix de Diane (2100m) success in July. Out of a half-sister to High Chaparral, the three-year-old filly confirmed her authority in the division with a G1 victory in the Nassau Stakes (2000m) at Glorious Goodwood. She has since run with credit to place third in the G1 Matron Stakes (1600m) at Leopardstown and will appreciate a return to a longer distance.


One of the top three-year-old fillies in France, Tawkeel remains unbeaten in five racecourse starts. She broke through for a Group One success in the Prix Saint-Alary (2000m) in June and was given time to develop before returning with a victory in the G2 Prix de la Nonette (2000m) at Deauville in late August. The Teofilo filly is potentially still improving and seems to excel over this distance.


Irish 1000 Guineas winner Peaceful was unable to uphold the form against long-term rival Fancy Blue in the G1 Prix de Diane (2100m) over the longer distance finishing a neck third. Trainer Aidan O’Brien gave the filly time off the track following her big efforts in the Classics and she returned with a fair second in the G1 Matron Stakes at Leopardstown (1600m) in early September. It was well-documented by connections that they expected Peaceful to improve for the run and play a major role once again.

Alpine Star

Full sister to multiple Group One winner Alpha CentauriAlpine Star upheld the family reputation when scoring in the G1 Coronation Stakes (1600m) at Royal Ascot in June. The filly started favourite for the G1 Prix de Diane (2100m) and was narrowly denied by Fancy Blue, placing second. She returned to France for an eye-catching second in the G1 Prix Jacques Le Marois (1600m) at Deauville in open company and the experience against older competition will stand her in good stead.


Nazeef has emerged as a top-class miler in 2020 and recorded her first Group One success in the Falmouth Stakes (1600m) at Newmarket in July. Her unbeaten run was ended when she placed third in the G1 Nassau Stakes (2000m) behind Fancy Blue and the filly has since been well-beaten in the G1 Prix Jean Romanet (2000m). Although yet to win over 2000m, connections seem confident that Nazeef does stay and can reverse her fortunes.


Tarnawa was a surprise winner of the G1 Prix Vermeille (2400m) at Longchamp and has been generally overlooked this season despite an excellent record in stakes races, with five wins and two placings from nine attempts. A multiple winner over 2000m, Tarnawa is a proven stayer compared to the rest of the field and may use that stamina to her advantage.

Cayenne Pepper 

Cayenne Pepper is a top-class performer who has been very consistent throughout the course of her career. Having finished second in the G1 Irish Oaks (2400m) and the G3 Give Thanks Stakes (2400m) behind Tarnawa, she broke through for her first victory of the season when recording a four-length success in the G2 Blandford Stakes (2000m). Cayenne Pepper is very capable of producing a big performance against these rivals and must not be dismissed.

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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