First run in 1974, this race will be contested for the 40th time in 2013. Originally, it had Group II status and was run over 1 mile 1 ¼ furlongs. From 2000, it was promoted to Group I and contested over the longer distance of 1 mile 2 furlongs. Record time: over 1 mile 1 ¼ furlongs, 1 50'' 10/100 in 1983 by Royal Heroine; over 1 mile 2 furlongs, 2’ 00’’ 90/100 in 2006 by Mandesha. The record number of starters is 18, in both 1981 and 1983. The lowest number, 6, went to post in 1998 and 2006.
The name Opéra, evoking as it does the splendid Parisian scene and its gracious dancers, was altogether appropriate for an international race reserved for fillies at the finest racecourse in Paris. From its launch, the race began to feature some real stars, such as Dumka (Poule d'Essai), Gaily (second in the Irish Oaks) and Hippodamia (Critérium des Pouliches). But even they were overshadowed by a true revelation, Cheryl, competing on behalf of a Japanese owner.
Due to the Prix de l'Opéra’s intermediate distance, the winners of the Prix de Diane and Vermeille have tended to steer clear, preferring the adventure of the Arc de Triomphe. However, when the heroine of the Prix de Diane 2002, Bright Sky, lined up at the start of the Prix de l'Opéra four months later, she pulled off a fine win, an example followed in 2006 by the winner of the Prix Vermeille, Mandesha, who also confirmed the victory she had secured three weeks earlier. Moreover, certain placed horses in the Prix de Diane have confirmed their quality in the Prix de l'Opéra, such as the second-placed Cistus (1978) and Secret Form (1986), or the third-placed Producer (1979), Verveine (1993) and Insight (1998).
Several Prix de l'Opéra-winners have subsequently distinguished themselves at the highest level abroad. Most notable among these are Waya in 1977 (Turf Classic, Man O'War Stakes), Royal Heroine in 1983 (Breeders' Cup Mile), Terre à Terre in 2001 (Dubai Duty Free) and Alexander Goldrun in 2004 (Hong Kong Cup, Pretty Polly Stakes).
The Prix de l'Opéra has also played its full part in unearthing the best talent. Fillies whom have finished in the running include Albertine (3rd in 1984), future dam of Arcangues (Breeders' Cup Classic 1993); Blue Tip (3rd in 1985 and 1986), who became the grandmother of Grandera (Irish Champion Stakes 2002) and Grey Lilas (2nd in 2004), future dam of Golden Lilac (Poule d’Essai and Prix de Diane Longines 2011).
The Prix de l'Opéra has also rewarded perseverance in the shape of Satwa Queen, who has taken part three times, coming fifth as a 3-year-old, 2nd the following year and finally triumphing at the age of 5 in 2007.
The record of three victories is jointly held by Jacques Wertheimer: Mona Stella (1987) etandAthyka (1988, 1989); the Wildenstein Family: two to Daniel Wildenstein, Waya (1977), Verveine (1993) and one to the Wildenstein Stable, Bright Sky (2002); and Prince Karim Aga Khan: Timarida (1995), Shalanaya (2009) and Ridasiyna (2012).
Next comes :
2 Robert Sangster: Hortensia (1980) and Royal Heroine (1983).
Mme Christiane Head-Maarek holds the record with five wins: Reine Mathilde (1984), Mona Stella (1987), Athyka (1988, 1989) and Hatoof (1992).
4 Michael Stoute: Royal Heroine (1983), Bella Colora (1985), Petrushka (2000) and Zee Zee Top (2003). .
2 André Fabre: Colour Chart (1990) and Clodora (1997).
2 Mikel Delzangles: Shalanaya (2009) and Ridasiyna (2012).
The record of three wins is held jointly by Yves Saint-Martin: Sea Sands (1975), Waya (1977) and Kilmona (1981); Walter J. Swinburn: Royal Heroine (1983), Bella Colora (1985) and Hatoof (1992); and Cash Asmussen: Secret Form (1986), Colour Chart (1990) and Insight (1998).
2 Willy Carson: Cistus (1978) and Dione (1982).
2 Guy Guignard: Athyka (1988, 1989).
2 John-Patrick Murtagh: Timarida (1995) and Petrushka (2000).
2 Christophe Soumillon: Terre à Terre (2001) and Mandesha (2006).
2 Dominique Bœuf: Bright Sky (2002) and Lady Marian (2008).