Saturday Treble - Queen of The Valley's 10th Group 1

Date: 24 Mar 2024

Saturday Treble - Queen of The Valley's 10th Group 1

With a mighty performance, champion mare Imperatriz (5 m I Am Invincible – Berimbau, by Shamardal) defending her title in the $1m 3 Point Motors William Reid Stakes (Gr. 1, 1200m) on Saturday at Moonee Valley, while recording her 10th Group One victory.

In doing so, Imperatriz achieved a unique double that no horse before has done - she has now won The Valley's Triple Group 1 Sprint Crown in both a calendar year (2023) and a racing season.

Now the winner of all five starts at The Valley, Imperatriz first embraced the course when finishing powerfully in the corresponding race last year, and became Queen of the course with subsequent victories including back-to-back track records over 1000 metres in the McEwen Stakes (Gr. 2, 1000m) and Moir Stakes (Gr. 1, 1000 metres) and most recently winning the Manikato Stakes (Gr. 1, 1200m) in October last year.

She then took on Flemington, recording her eighth Group One victory in the A$3 million Darley Champions Sprint (Gr. 1, 1200m) last November, before spelling, returning fresh-up to win the A$1 million Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (Gr. 1, 1000m) in February. She then bravely carried top weight (58.5kg) last start for second in the Newmarket Handicap (Gr. 1, 1200m) on 9 March.

Back to WFA conditions, what stood between her and justifying hot favouritism ($1.60) in the William Reid was merely speculation.

It never appeared easy from an awkward draw (9), and it looked worse when regular pilot Opie Bosson was caught on a limb beyond midfield, but he made a decision to put Imperatriz into a challenging position and despite a tough trip she found the reserves that champions are made of.

Winning by a head, Imperatriz ran 1200 metres in 1:09.9 on Good4 footing.

“It’s a great thrill, especially after the Newmarket,” said trainer Mark Walker. “She really dug deep that day, and to come back here and do it at her favourite track it’s a bit of a relief really and I’m looking forward to having a beer.

“We’d been a bit stiff today with runners down by the fence, and I knew from her draw (9) that we wouldn’t be anywhere near the fence, so I was quite happy about that.

“All the horses ran well today without a lot of luck, but it’s good to get the main one anyway.”

It really was a stellar victory and now puts Imperatriz ahead of the nine Group Ones by former stable-mate Avantage (Fastnet Rock), while on a path to chasing down dual Horse of the Year and Te Akau star mare Melody Belle (Commands), the domestic record-holder of 14 Group Ones.

Recording his 12th victory on Imperatriz, the win edged stable rider Opie Bosson closer to achieving 100 Group Ones, as he notched his 98th. Earlier in the programme he got his eye in aboard stable-mate Quintessa (Shamus Award) when the pair combined in the race beforehand with a great effort second, only to be beaten by a nose in the Alister Clark Stakes (Gr. 2, 2040m).

It was a particularly good effort when considering the filly lost a shoe and was also galloped on in the running. Earlier the programme Bosson had guided stable-mate Campionessa (Contributer) into a luckless third in the Sunline Stakes (Gr. 2, 1600m).

“I seemed to get in quite nicely behind Bella Nipotina and I thought she’d take me into the race, but she didn’t really cart me into it and I had to make quite a long run, really, to be fair,” Bosson said.

“I sat for a little bit turning in and when she gets on that right leg in the straight she’s just amazing.

“You can just feel her picking up underneath you and once she balances up she’s just all class.

“I got off her the other day (Newmarket Handicap) and I said to Mark (Walker) that she’ll be hard to beat at weight-for-age in any race from now on, so I’m pleased she came out and won the way she did.”

Purchased for A$360,000 by David Ellis CNZM at the Gold Coast Yearling Sale 2020, from the draft of Bhima Thoroughbreds, Imperatriz is owned by the Te Akau Invincible Empress Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).

Imperatriz has now won 19 of her 26 starts, including 10 of 12 since 1 January last year, and nearly NZ$7.4 million in prize money.

On course, syndicate manager Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM said: “She’s just such a joy in every part of her life, and I know it’s easy to find superlatives about top horses when they perform at the highest level, but she’s got heart, and she’s got courage, and she’s got tenacity, and she’s just a sweetheart.

“We loved her from the day we met her. We’re not just climbing on to the bandwagon, now, saying look how good she is.

“She’s just a horse the captures people’s hearts and she’s been so embraced in Australia. She might be Ozzie bred, but she’s a Kiwi.

“It’s a wonderful group of owners. David Ellis bought her at Magic Millions (Gold Coast) and she was the very last yearling to sell in her year.

“She sat on the website, sat there, and people say they’d have loved to have had a share in her... they could have – and we’ve got some there (website) with shares available right now.”

The efforts and enterprise exercised by Te Akau helps provide a certain lifeblood to New Zealand racing owners and fans, alike, which is widely acknowledged, and horses like Darci Brahma (Danehill), Gingernuts (Iffraaj), Melody Belle (Commands), Probabeel (Savabeel), Te Akau Shark (Rip Van Winkle), and Imperatriz, have helped showcase their operation with Group One wins in Australia.

“It’s been such an exciting season for us in Australia, to have the new Te Akau stables going so well at Cranbourne, and to train a mare like Imperatriz really helps put us on the map,” Ellis said.

“Mark (Walker) and Ben (Gleeson) and all our team are really excited with the horses we’ve got and the opportunities going forward.

“Being here today and seeing our five runners perform so well is very rewarding, especially Imperatriz winning her 10th Group One. It’s just extraordinary and I’m very humbled to be a part of it.”

Imperatriz was strapped by her devoted companion Jason Levin.

Photo credit -


Sign up to our newsletter