Imperatriz Ready to Return

Date: 12 Feb 2024

Imperatriz Ready to Return

Brad Waters - reports:

Imperatriz's trainer Mark Walker suggested punters only needed to look at Mr Brightside when assessing the relevance of barrier trials heading into Group 1 races.

Imperatriz is the $1.70 favourite to continue her winning run in Saturday's Group 1 Lightning Stakes at Flemington but her barrier trial at Cranbourne last Monday raised eyebrows outside the Te Akau Racing operation.

However, Walker and Melbourne representative Ben Gleeson said Imperatriz merely turned in a lazy effort on her home track.

Walker said lacklustre barrier trials can mean little on race day.

"There was a lot of talk before the weekend that Mr Brightside's jumpouts weren't that great," Walker said.

"Look what he did (in the C.F Orr Stakes). These good horses have checks and balances every day and there's nothing out of place. Trials are different to race day and we look forward to Saturday."

Walker and Gleeson took Imperatriz to The Valley for a gallop on Monday morning.

Walker said he had planned for some time to gallop Imperatriz at The Valley leading into her first-up run.

The eight-time Group 1 winner worked alongside last-start Flemington winner Sans Doute in the 800m gallop.

Trainer Mark Walker was impressed with odds-on favourite Imperatriz's gallop at The Valley before Saturday's Lightning Stakes at Flemington. 

Jockey Michael Dee rode Imperatriz in the gallop in which the mares covered the 800m in 51.72 seconds, running home their last 400m in 23.94 seconds.

Walker said the gallop went perfectly to plan.

"She was a little bit casual at home and we were looking for something different," Walker said.

"It's beautiful grass (at The Valley) so horses enjoy the surface and we were able to get here early this morning and get her home before the heat.

"We've just done a bit of maintenance work and that was her final bit of fast work before the Lightning. They worked to the line quite nicely."

Imperatriz has experienced her first Australian summer in recent weeks with high temperatures forecast early in the week in Melbourne.

Walker said Imperatriz would need to acclimatise to the heat.

"We've just put in some extra fans," Walker said.

"It is what it is, it's hot and they've just got to get used to it."

Despite the conditions, Walker said Imperatriz would be in prime condition when he legged jockey Opie Bosson aboard at Flemington on Saturday.

"They don't give Group 1 wins away so you've got to have them pretty ready," Walker said.

"We think she's pretty ready."

Photo credit -  Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images


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