Imperatriz Hunts Group 1 Sydney Honours

Date: 2 Mar 2023

Imperatriz Hunts Group 1 Sydney Honours


Ray Hickson reports for Racing NSW:


Te Akau head trainer Mark Walker says he couldn't be bringing classy mare Imperatriz to Sydney in any better shape to chase an Australian Group 1 at Randwick on Saturday.

The mare is a four-time Group 1 winner in New Zealand with 12 wins from 17 starts, including two victories over Golden Eagle winner I Wish I Win, and Walker feels the Group 1 $600,000 Furphy Canterbury Stakes (1300m) is the right fit for her first trip away from home.

Walker returned from Singapore last year to resume the role at Te Akau as Jamie Richards moved on to Hong Kong and Imperatriz is the stable's headline act so it's important to him she runs well.

“We'd like to win a Group 1 in Australia for her CV later on as a broodmare prospect,'' Walker said.

“She's got a great record at home but we're under no illusions it's a step up for sure. We wouldn't have sent her over if we didn't think she could measure up.”

Prior to his 11 year stint in Singapore, Walker was Te Akau's trainer between 1997 and 2010 where he trained his only Australian Group 1 winner to date which was Darci Brahma (2005) in the race now known as the JJ Atkins in Brisbane.

Imperatriz's Australian debut was originally planned for the spring where she was considered a leading contender for both the $10 million Golden Eagle in Sydney and Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes in Melbourne.

But her form didn't warrant it after disappointing performances at Hastings in September and Matamata in October.

She's bounced back since Walker gave her a short break and is unbeaten in 2023 including her runaway Group 1 win at Te Rapa on February 11, the trainer's 25th Group 1 success.

“This prep she's been brilliant. She can get a bit crook in the back at times but we've got her pretty good at the moment,'' Walker said.

“She won pretty easily at Te Rapa, there was a riderless horse in the race which is never ideal but she won with a lot of authority.”

The four-year-old jumps from barrier seven in the Canterbury Stakes and Walker has booked his former stable rider James McDonald for the job at Randwick.

He said McDonald will be able to position the mare, $2.30 favourite with TAB on Wednesday, wherever he wants in the run.

“She's very adaptable, she's come from back and from right there. She can handle a bit of cut in the track as well,'' he said.

“It's a huge plus to have James riding, James rode a lot of winners for us when I last trained in New Zealand.  I'd like to think on her best form she can be in the finish.”

At this stage Imperatriz is Te Akau's only representative during the Sydney Autumn Carnival but that could change depending on results in New Zealand this weekend.

Walker has Dynastic and Savoir Faire engaged in the NZ Derby at Te Rapa on Saturday, the former is nominated for the $2m Australian Derby (2400m); while Safura contests the Sunline Vase, she holds an entry in the $1m Australian Oaks (2400m).


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