Berri Blitzes Them in Melbourne Group 1
25 Mar 2023
The Champion Three-Year-Old last season, Imperatriz (4 m I Am Invincible – Berimbau, by Shamardal) reached the pinnacle with a brilliant victory in the A$1 million 3 Point Motors William Reid Stakes (Gr. 1, 1200m) on Friday night at Moonee Valley.
Exuding special qualities when unbeaten as a two-year-old, including the Eclipse Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m), she won both the Levin Classic (Gr. 1, 1600m) and NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (Gr. 1, 1600m) at three, and dominated again this season with victories in the Sistema Railway (Gr. 1, 1200m) and BCD Sprint (Gr. 1, 1400m).
Understood to the utmost by nine-time Champion Trainer Mark Walker, who faced a tricky decision whether to step up in distance when heading to Australia, he opted for the Canterbury Stakes (Gr. 1, 1400m) on 4 March at Randwick (NSW), in which she raced outside the leader before being claimed on the line, and dropped back in trip to beat some of the best sprinters in Australia.
Apart from a bump when looking to improve, Imperatriz was given a seamlessly perfect ride by Opie Bosson, and looming as she did rounding the home turn was the impetus for a powerful finish.
On Soft5 footing, Imperatriz ran 1200 metres in 1:10.5 and paid $3.70 & $1.70 on the NZ TAB tote.
For Bosson it was his 91st Group One success and his first in Australia since a fantastic Group One double aboard Probabeel (Savabeel) and Te Akau Shark (Rip Van Winkle) on 2020 at Randwick for the stable.
“She did it all for me and she’s a wonderful mare,” Bosson said. “She’s got an amazing turn of foot and can get herself out of trouble.
“I’m privileged to ride these horses for Te Akau and David Ellis buys so many amazing horses.”
Recording her fifth Group One win, Imperatriz extended her record to 13 wins from 19 starts and prize money of $1,828,660.
“It was great win and she really deserved that, and also great thrill to see Opie (Bosson) ride such a tactically brilliant race,” said Walker, who had son Zavier with him on course to experience the win.
“The whole team has worked long and hard all season and that has resulted in one of the pinnacle results of the season for everyone involved.”
Purchased for $360,000 by David Ellis CNZM at the Gold Coast Yearling Sale 2020, from the draft of Bhima Thoroughbreds, owned by Te Akau Invincible Empress Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), Imperatriz lives up to the empress title from which her name translates.
“Winning the Karaka Million for the seventh time in a row is hard to beat as a highlight for the season, especially the way Tokyo Tycoon did it, but for this mare to win her fifth Group One and beat some very good sprinters in Australia is right up there,” Ellis said.
“It’s an honour to do for a living what is both my hobby and passion, along with farming, and Karyn and I keep buying and selling horses because it’s fun and we love to see the thrill our staff and owners get out of it.”
The efforts and enterprise exercised by Te Akau provide lifeblood to New Zealand racing is acknowledged widely, and horses like Gingernuts (Iffraaj), Melody Belle (Commands), Probabeel (Savabeel), Te Akau Shark (Rip Van Winkle), and Imperatriz, have helped showcased the operation with Group One wins in Australia.
“A lot of the owners in Imperatriz have invested again in yearlings we’ve bought at the sales this year. Plus we always receive great reinvestment from existing owners and a lot of new owners have become involved as well,” said Ellis, who came out top purchaser for raw stakes’ winners to purchases ratio and top purchaser of yearlings globally between 2015 – 2021 according to Horse Racing and Data Analytics.
“Each night after dinner I go around checking all the yearlings and we’ve got such a beautiful group this year.
“That was Mark’s 30th stakes’ win for the season and it’s still only March. It’s just incredible and he’s a world-class trainer.
“It also proves what a world-class jockey Opie is, because it really was a lovely ride.
“We’ve had a bit of bad luck in Melbourne over the years. Distinctly Secret was a tragedy beaten in the Australian Cup and very unlucky in the Caulfield Cup, so it’s fitting to win another big Group One there.”
Imperatriz was strapped by Hunter Durrant.