As Te Akau Racing descend on the Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale this week, an exciting autumn campaign commenced for Imperatriz with her first serious piece of work on Thursday at Cranbourne.
The daughter of I Am Invincible took the Victorian sprinting scene by storm in 2023, with victories in the Gr.1 William Reid Stakes (1200m), Gr.2 McEwen Stakes (1000m), Gr.1 Moir Stakes (1000m), and Gr.1 Manikato Stakes (1200m).
Any doubters of the mare’s bourgeoning status were silenced in the final start of her campaign, where she added an eighth elite-level victory to her record in the Gr.1 Champion’s Sprint (1200m) down the iconic Flemington straight in November.
Trainer Mark Walker was on course at Cranbourne for Imperatriz’s opening gallop of her new preparation, and was pleased to see a lively version of his stable star.
“She’s back, she had a bit of a tantrum going out onto the track which was good to see,” Walker told Cranbourne Turf Club.
“She’s just a bit out of her comfort zone coming across the road, but her work was very strong, so we’re very happy.”
Aiming to pick up where she left off at Flemington in the spring, Imperatriz will kick-off a three-start campaign in the $1 million Gr.1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on February 17, before a title defence in the William Reid at Moonee Valley.
“She puts on weight really easily, so we have to monitor that. We have got five weeks until her first-up run in the Lightning, so she’s on track,” Walker said.
“She’ll go Lightning Stakes, then it will be five weeks into the William Reid. She’ll then go up to Sydney a couple of weeks later for the T.J Smith.”
Imperatriz will hope to emulate the feats of fellow Kiwi fan favourite I Wish I Win in the A$3 million Gr.1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) on April 6, the Savabeel gelding taking an emphatic victory in the Randwick feature last season.
“She will only have the three runs in the autumn, but every Group One is hard to win so it’s still a good programme. They certainly don’t give Group One’s away,” Walker said.
Imperatriz was a A$360,000 buy on the Gold Coast in 2020 by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis, whose purchases this week have included securing an A$2.1 million Wootton Bassett filly out of Avantage, a nine-time Group One winner in New Zealand for the stable.
“They’re hard to find, and hopefully we’ve found some (like Imperatriz) at Magic Millions this week. (The yearlings) we’ve bought are beautiful,” Walker said.
– NZ Racing Desk