Imperatriz to take up 2024 Newmarket Handicap challenge

Star mare Imperatriz is set to run in one of Australia’s most iconic sprint races, the Newmarket Handicap down the famous straight six at Flemington.

Te Akau Racing announced their decision on social media on Friday after the mare had worked at Moonee Valley.

The Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) will be run on March 9, the third of the Victoria Racing Club’s four meetings of their autumn carnival.

The team, headed by David Ellis, trainer Mark Walker, assistant-trainer Ben Gleeson and Karyn Fenton-Ellis had also been considering the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick on Saturday week.

“Te Akau Racing can confirm our star mare Imperatriz will contest the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap on 9 March at Flemington,” Te Akau Racing posted on X, formerly Twitter.

“Careful consideration was given to both Sydney and Melbourne options for that date and a number of factors (pros & cons) determined the decision by the team of David, Mark, Karyn and Ben.

“With her main end targets remaining the William Reid at Moonee Valley and the T J Smith at Randwick, we believe this is in the mare’s best interests.

“She enjoyed her track gallop this morning, her work was excellent.

“Thank you again to everyone for the amazing support and interest Berri receives, it’s truly humbling.”

Imperatriz has strung together six wins on the trot in Melbourne since Artorius lowered her colours in the Canterbury Stakes last year.

She is expected to be burdened with 58kg, the same weight Black Caviar carried in the 2011 Newmarket Handicap at start number 10 in her unbeaten career of 25 starts.

Imperatriz resumed with a hard-fought victory in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on February 17.

Nominations for the Newmarket Handicap close on Monday with weights to be declared later that afternoon.

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