Bumper Valley Team for Te Akau

Date: 22 Mar 2024

Bumper Valley Team for Te Akau

Raceform's Richard Edmund's reports:

Te Akau Racing will fly the New Zealand flag in four Group races at Moonee Valley on Saturday, headed by nine-time Group One winner Imperatriz in the Gr. 1 William Reid Stakes.

The superstar daughter of I Am Invincible is back to defend the William Reid title she won in scintillating style 12 months ago. That was the first Australian victory for Imperatriz and her fifth Group One victory overall, but that was just the beginning.

The past year has been one of the most extraordinary ever seen by a New Zealand horse in Australia, with Imperatriz adding the Gr. 2 McEwen Stakes, Gr. 1 Moir Stakes, Gr. 1 Manikato Stakes, Gr. 1 Champions Sprint and Gr. 1 Lightning Stakes in her next five starts.

The stunning streak was finally broken in the Gr. 1 Newmarket Handicap on March 9 when she carried a testing topweight of 58 kilograms and finished a gallant second to Godolphin colt Cylinder. That high-class three-year-old had only 51.5 kilograms on his back.

“She was so brave in the Newmarket under that big weight,” trainer Mark Walker told RaceForm on Tuesday. “Getting her back to weight-for-age conditions for the William Reid on Saturday is going to make a huge difference, and she’s obviously unbeaten at Moonee Valley as well.

“We’ve been very happy with her in between times. She’ll have her final gallop at Cranbourne tomorrow morning and should be spot-on for Saturday.”

Imperatriz will again be ridden by stable jockey Opie Bosson, who will have to plot a path from an awkward gate of 10 in an 11-horse field.

“She’s won from out wide at Moonee Valley before, and that’s sometimes not the worst place to be at that track,” Walker said. “You avoid some of the bad luck you can sometimes strike when you’re down closer to the rail.”

This season’s Gr. 1 Zabeel Classic winner Campionessa will line up in the Gr. 2 Sunline Stakes over 1600 metres. The super-consistent daughter of Contributer claimed her first Australian stakes win in the Gr. 2 Peter Young Stakes over 1800 metres at Caulfield on February 24.

“We were delighted to see her get that Australian Group Two win last time,” Walker said. “It really enhanced her value at a point of her career where the broodmare paddock isn’t all that far away.

“We’ve been pleased with her build-up to this race. She galloped nicely at Moonee Valley this morning and seemed to get around the track well.

“I actually think 1600 metres is her pet distance, she’s run some top races over that trip this season. We’re looking forward to seeing how she goes on Saturday.”

Stablemate Quintessa won the Gr. 1 Levin Classic over 1600 metres at Trentham in January, and she faced her first test across the Tasman in the Gr. 1 Australian Guineas over the same distance at Flemington on March 2. The daughter of Shamus Award showed that she belonged, finishing strongly into fourth and steps up to 2040m metres for Saturday’s Gr. 2 Alister Clark Stakes.

“She ran a fantastic race in the Australian Guineas and really proved that she measures up in Melbourne, and against the boys as well,” Walker said. “She’s done everything right since then and this looks like a nice race for her.”

Savabeel filly Certainly will make her Australian debut in the Gr. 3 Alexandra Stakes, which is a 1600-metre race for three-year-old fillies. The Waikato Stud homebred was a last-start stakes winner on home soil, capturing the Gr. 3 Mufhasa Stakes at Ellerslie on March 2.

“We thought this race was a suitable first Australian target for her,” Walker said. “It’s unfortunate that she’ll have to carry a Group-winning penalty, but it is what it is. She galloped very nicely at home this morning and will travel tomorrow.”

Te Akau will also have a presence on Saturday’s undercard, with Prismatic contesting benchmark a handicap over 2040 metres.


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