VILLA Marina was a surprise winner of the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera at ParisLongchamp.
Following their deflating defeat with Enable in the preceding Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, John Gosden and Frankie Dettori hoped for compensation with hot favourite Mehdaayih in this 10-furlong test.
Dettori sent the 11/8 market leader straight to lead, but she ran keenly for much of the way and was a spent force early in the home straight, weakening quickly to finish nearer last than first.
Villa Marina was an 18/1 shot for trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias and veteran French jockey Olivier Peslier – having finished fourth behind Gosden’s Star Catcher in the Prix Vermeille three weeks ago – but stuck to her task well to emerge victorious.
Aidan O’Brien’s Fleeting finished strongly to grab second, with Gosden’s second string Terebellum in fifth.
Peslier said: “I didn’t want to get too near the front too soon, because I hoped the others would come back to me in that ground.
“Fortunately the race unfolded perfectly for me, with everything opening up, and she had just enough to hold off the other filly (Fleeting).”