09/30/2006 11:00PM

Mandesha victorious in Prix de l'Opera


Paris, France - Mandesha extended her reputation as perhaps the world's most versatile Thoroughbred at Longchamp on Sunday with a brave victory in the $320,000 Prix de l'Opera. The The 3-year-old Desert Style filly has now won Group 1 contests in her last three starts going a mile in the Prix d'Astarte, a mile and a half in the Prix Vermeille and 1 1/4 miles in the Opera.

It wasn't easy, however, as she and rider Christophe Soumillon had to catch a game Satwa Queen, the only non-winner of a Group 1 in the 6-strong field. Soumillon brought the Alain de Royer-Dupre trainee along the aril to catch Satwa Queen barely 100 yards form the line. Mandesha prevailed by three quarters of a length with 3-time Group 1 Oaks winner and 9-10 favorite Alexandrova third, 2-1/2 lengths further behind over a distance that was clearly too short for her.

Mandesha covered the ten furlongs in a swift 2:00.90 as the 1.30-1 second choice.

"She has the capacity to accelerate," said the Aga Khan who was speaking for Mandesha's official owner, his daughter the Princess Zahra Khan. "All of the really great horses can do that at any distance."

The Opera left the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf scene in flux. Mandesha will not run again this year, while Satwa Queen is preferred for the Churchill Downs race over Woodbine's E.P Taylor. Alexandrova is still a possibilty for the race, while Team Valor's Irridescence, who faded to fourth after leading to the quarter pole, is headed back to Sha Tin for the Hong Kong Cup, which will be run on Dec. 10 on the same 1 1/4-mile track over which she beat colts in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in April.

Holy Roman Emperor showed a similar talent for acceleration as he stormed to an impressive 2-length victory over Battle Point in the $450,000 Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere for 2-year-olds. The Danehill colt was giving trainer Aidan O'Brien his third straight victory in the 7-furlong Lagardere. In adding to his Group 1 score two back in the 6-furlong Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh, Holy Roman Emperor clocked the 7 furlongs in 1:18.60, bettering the stakes record set two years ago by Oratorio.

"He loves his racing and loves to go after a forcing pace," said O'Brien of the winner. "He missed an assignment a while back when the ground came up soft at Deauville and wasn't quite fit for the National Stakes," when he was beaten into second by Teofilo.

"We might eventully try him on dirt," O'Brien concluded, but the Irishman wouldn't be drawn into committing 'Emperor' to any future assignment.

An Irish-trained juvenile filly was equally impressive in the one-mile $380,000 Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac as the unheralded 20-1 shot Finsceal Beo cruised to a 5-length romp over Darrfonah. The Mr. Greeley Irish-bred, trained by Teofilo's mentor Jim Bolger had chased home Miss Beatrix in the $2 million Goffs Million at the Curragh on Sept. 19, so her Longchamp victory boosts her into the upper echelon of European juvenile fillies. Her time for the mile under Kevin Manning was 1:34.90.

Desert Lord came within a half second of Habibti's 1983 5-furlong course mark as he led throughout under Jamie Spencer to grab the $320,000 Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp by a neck from the favored Reverence. Sent off at 23-1, the Kevin Ryan-trained Desert Lord was timed in :54.80 for his first group race win of the year in ten starts.