Imperatriz a class above in Manikato

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  • October 31, 2023
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Superstar sprinting mare Imperatriz maintained her unblemished record at Moonee Valley with another scintillating performance in Saturday’s Gr.1 Manikato Stakes (1200m).

Te Akau Racing’s freakish daughter of I Am Invincible has now had four starts at the unique Melbourne circuit for four Group wins – the Gr.1 William Reid Stakes (1200m), Gr.2 McEwen Stakes (1000m), Gr.1 Moir Stakes (1000m) and the Manikato Stakes.

Imperatriz was a red-hot $1.40 favourite for Saturday’s A$2 million sprint feature, having produced explosive finishes from off the pace to score easy and track-record-breaking wins in the McEwen Stakes and Moir Stakes in her previous two starts.

She did things a little differently on Saturday, breaking alertly from the starting gates and landing in the lead. Jockey Opie Bosson was happy to stay there, dictating the race from the front before increasing the tempo coming down the side of the track. Imperatriz quickly shook free of Jigsaw and scooted away, rounding the home turn with a three-length lead.

The result was in no doubt from there, with Imperatriz all alone down the short Moonee Valley straight. She swept past the finish line three and a quarter lengths ahead of I Am Me, stopping the clock at 1:09.59.

“It’s easy when you’re riding horses like this,” Bosson said. “She just does everything for me, really. She’s something special.

“She’s the best I’ve ever ridden, by far. I’ve never ridden a horse that can just switch off and then go bang when you want it.

“It wasn’t really the plan to lead, but we were there and she was doing it comfortably. She changed legs at the right time, and turning for home I knew that we were going to be hard to beat.”

Bred by Malaysian businessman Dato Yap Kim San’s Raffles Farm, Imperatriz caught the eye of Te Akau’s David Ellis, who secured her for A$360,000 as a yearling. She has now earned more than $3.5 million in prize-money for the Te Akau Invincible Empress Racing Partnership.

Her 22-start career has produced 16 wins and three placings. She is now a seven-time Group One winner, having captured the Levin Classic (1600m), New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m), Sistema Railway (1200m), BCD Group Sprint (1400m), and this year’s Moonee Valley sprint treble in the William Reid, Moir and Manikato.

“It’s great for all the ownership group,” head trainer Mark Walker said. “They’ve been so understanding about not going to Sydney for The Everest (1200m). We’re thinking about her longevity.

“It’s a big thrill, and I think this mare is keeping Opie in the saddle as well. He’s such an important part of our team, so that’s great.

“That ride today is the genius of Opie. She jumped so well, so why take away that advantage? I think he probably expected that someone might come around him and then he’d take a trail, but no one did. She had the race in the bag a long way from home, really.” – NZ Racing Desk

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