Sydney Next for Imperatriz

Date: 26 Mar 2024

Sydney Next for Imperatriz

Michael Guerin, NZ Herald reports:

Champion racemare Imperatriz is coming home but she has two pieces of unfinished business in Australia first.

The first of those goals, the A$3 million TJ Smith at Randwick on April 6, could greatly assist her in achieving her second and final goal for the season.

Imperatriz made it 10 career Group1 wins and total domination of Victoria’s elite sprints for a whole year when she won her second William Reid at The Valley in Melbourne on Saturday.

The win wasn’t as dramatic to the eye, only achieved by a comfortable margin over a largely unknown rival, but it had an air of arrogance, jockey Opie Bosson almost happy to sit wide without cover knowing he could get away with it.

The TJ Smith now gives her the chance to extend that dominance to Sydney, where she has raced only once and was narrowly defeated in the Canterbury Stakes last season.

“It will definitely be her last race for the season,” says trainer Mark Walker. “She will be on a plane home to New Zealand the next day and spell here before we bring her back up.”

Walker says while Imperatriz has been near unbeatable in Victoria, where all racing is left-handed, he believes she can bring that form to racing right-handed in Sydney.

She has raced right-handed only five times for three wins (one each at Ellerslie, Pukekohe and, of all places, Ruak?k?), whereas her two defeats came to stablemate Sword Of State at Ellerslie at three and when divebombed by Artorious in the Canterbury Stakes last year.

The TJ Smith could have been an intimidating assignment with the promise of race-hardened Sydney sprinters and the reappearance of last year’s winner I Wish I Win but the Sydney sprinting ranks look decidedly disorganised.

The 2023 Everest winner Think About It is being aimed at the Doncaster, while the form out of Saturday’s Group 1 Galaxy at Rosehill is hardly going to scare the Imperatriz camp.

“We’re going into it without a run but I’m sure it will still be a good field,” says I Wish I Win’s co-trainer Peter Moody.

If Imperatriz can end her season with the high of a TJ Smith victory, then she must increase her chances in her last great battle for the season, winning the Australian Horse of the Year.

Australia has lacked a dominant older horse this season, with the Cox Plate won by Hong Kong raider Romantic Warrior, while it is hard to envisage the age group ranks throwing up a contender, especially after Storm Boy was beaten in the Golden Slipper on Saturday.

That leaves only three obvious dangers to Imperatriz for the title.

There will be plenty of emotion attached to Pride Of Jenni if she can win the Australian Cup on Saturday, while Think About It will get his shot at the title if he can add the Doncaster to his Everest triumph, securing plenty of Sydney votes.

And Caulfield and Melbourne Cup hero Without A Fight has to be considered, even though he raced only three times this season, because he won two of their greatest races and there could be a few voters who would prefer to back a local, albeit an imported one, than a Kiwi.

But if Imperatriz carries her winning Victorian ways in Sydney, her sprinting domination will be complete.

If she was to win the Australian Horse of the Year title, she would become the first New Zealand-trained horse to do so since Sunline won her third straight title in 2002, following on from Veandercross in 1993 and Bonecrusher in 1987.

Walker says Imperatriz will have a quiet week before doing three-quarter pacework on Saturday and her final track gallop next Tuesday before being transported to Sydney overnight (when it is cooler) next Thursday.

Also heading to Sydney are her stablemate Quintessa for the ATC Oaks, likely against Orchestral, on April 13, the same day Campionessa will contest the Queen of the Turf at Randwick.

That will mean Bosson rides in Sydney on April 6 and 13, missing the last Group 1 of the New Zealand season, the Sires’ Produce at Trentham on April 6, in which

Te Akau will have Captured By Love, Move To Strike and Unbridled Joy.


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