Imperatriz aimed at McEwen Stakes victory

Imperatriz provided trainer Mark Walker with an important Group 1 victory and the trainer is looking for the mare to provide the stable with another special victory at Moonee Valley.

The success of Imperatriz in the William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley in March was Walker’s first Group 1 win in Melbourne and he is looking to the mare to get his and Te Akau Racing’s latest venture off to a flying start.

Imperatriz lines up in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) on Saturday, the first runner for Walker and Te Akau Racing since establishing an Australian base at Cranbourne last month.

The mare is one of five horses Te Akau Racing has at Cranbourne to date, but that number will grow as the Melbourne Spring Carnival gets into full swing.

Ben Gleeson, who was the assistant trainer with Danny O’Brien, has joined forces with Walker and Te Akau Racing and has been preparing Imperatriz in recent weeks for her first-up assault.

He said Imperatriz had arrived from New Zealand in good order, having competed in a couple of jump-outs, before taking advantage of a gallop at Moonee Valley on Tuesday morning ahead of Saturday’s race with Michael Dee in the saddle.

“She came over pretty fit and had a nice gallop with Mick in the saddle,” Gleeson said.

“She’s done everything so far to please us, so we’ll get her to The Valley on Saturday and see how she measures up.”

Imperatriz is yet to compete over 1000m, but Gleeson expects the mare to be sharp enough with just six opponents to contend with.

“In both her jump-outs she has really rattled home over the shorter trip,” Gleeson said.

“It’s a small field, so it will be a matter of where she settles, but if she can be fighting it out with Giga Kick, we’ll be happy.”

Gleeson said the stable was planning a return to Moonee Valley for the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) on September 29 and again for the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) on October 28.

“At least we know she handles the track,” Gleeson said.

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