Saturday summary: Imperatriz crowned queen at The Valley

5 min read
The G2 McEwen S. provided plenty of thrills and drama and set the scene for an exciting season ahead with Imperatriz (I Am Invincible) knocking off The Everest champion Giga Kick (Scissor Kick). Across the ditch, an untapped mare claimed her maiden Group 1, while at Rosehill, a $3.9 million mare returned to the races in imperious style.

Cover image courtesy of The Image Is Everything

Race-Day Recap

The McEwen was highly anticipated by racing fans with the return of Giga Kick (Scissor Kick) and an A-grade support cast. However, Imperatriz, in the eye-catching tangerine, gave her rivals windburn.

Skew Wiff (NZ) (Savabeel) exacted her revenge over Dragon Leap (Pierro) in the G1 Tarzino Trophy on Saturday after being narrowly denied last start in the G2 Foxbridge Plate.

The $3.9 million mare, Sunshine In Paris (Invader), returned triumphantly in the G2 Sheraco S. on Saturday, putting her name in The Everest calculations.

Imperatriz gives McEwen field windburn

The G2 McEwen was a match-race of sorts with the much-anticipated return of the reigning The Everest hero Giga Kick (Scissor Kick), Te Akau Racing’s star mare Imperatriz (I Am Invincible) and several other key gallopers in the small field.

There was some movement at the barriers with the judge having to employ a manual start, which could have contributed to Giga Kick missing the start by approximately 2l.

Aboard Giga Kick, Craig Williams elected to make an earlier move on his mount and quickly started to pass Rothfire (Rothesay) and the mare. However, Michael Dee, while riding Imperatriz, let The Everest winner go and took up the stalking role on the five-time Group 1 victress in the tangerine silks.

Upon entering the straight and on fresh legs, Imperatriz was set alight by Michael Dee and surged past a tiring Giga Kick.

Upon the line, there was 2.5l between the daughter of I Am Invincible and Rothfire, who held Giga Kick off for second.

The victory capped a super day for Te Akau Racing, having earlier claimed the 3-year-old features in New Zealand.

Ben Gleeson, recently appointed Te Akau Racing’s assistant trainer for the new Cranbourne operation, represented the stable.

Ben Gleeson | Image courtesy of The Image Is Everything

“It was a huge relief, and we’ve had a massive day at home in New Zealand. All credit to Mark (Walker), Sam (Bergerson) and the team in New Zealand they sent Imperatriz over in fantastic order.

“It’s an incredible group of staff and horses, and the condition she turned up in in Australia and the performance today (Saturday) just speaks volumes for the operation.

“I was very happy with the position she found herself in. I was a tad worried when we had Giga Kick behind us, but when Giga Kick made an earlier move, Mick Dee read the race perfectly, and she managed to get a trail. The way she let down was enormous, and she loves The Valley.”

“Mick Dee read the race perfectly, and she (Imperatriz) managed to get a trail. The way she let down was enormous, and she loves The Valley.” - Ben Gleeson

Skew Wiff reverses result

It was a super Saturday for Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson under the Te Akau Racing banner to claim the two 3-year-old features. The pair sent the Waikato Stud-bred- and -owned mare Skew Wiff (NZ) (Savabeel) out in the G1 Tarzino Trophy.

The daughter of Savabeel was denied narrowly by Dragon Leap (Pierro) first-up in the G2 Foxbridge Plate but was able to exact her revenge by beating that galloper.

The G1 Australian Guineas heroine Legarto (NZ) (Proisir) kicked off her preparation in fine style, finishing in third only 0.4l away.

The Australian Group 1 winners Callsign Mav (NZ) (Atlante) finished fifth, while Sharp ‘N’ Smart (NZ) (Redwood {GB}) and Pennyweka (NZ) (Proisir) finished ninth and 13th, respectively.

The Tarzino Trophy is the third win and first Group 1 success for Skew Wiff, who has been placed twice at the elite level.

The 4-year-old mare is the 135th stakes winner for her eight-time Champion Sire Savabeel. The Champion is standing the 2023 breeding season at Waikato Stud for NZ$100,000 (plus GST).

Skew Wiff (NZ) dominates the home straight to win the G1 Tarzino Trophy at Hastings | Image courtesy of Peter Rubery (Race Images Palmerston North)

Sunshine In Paris makes Everest statement

The Annabel Neasham-trained Sunshine In Paris (Invader) made a massive statement for The Everest and the Golden Eagle in Saturday’s G2 Sheraco S.

The 4-year-old mare had not raced since winning the G1 Surround S. in her first preparation and, between that time, had been sold for a whopping $3.9 million to James Harron Bloodstock at this year’s Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale.

Ryan Maloney was confident aboard Sunshine In Paris as she ranged up on the outside under hands and heels to beat Zapateo (Brazen Beau), who faded to third, while Espiona (Extreme Choice) did the best of chasers to run into second.

“Very happy. She’s been a great filly, and that was only her sixth start,” Neasham told Sky Racing.

“We had her pretty right for today (Saturday), and the race looked right for her. She was taking on a proper group of mares today.

“I’m happy to take a slot for The Everest from anybody with one. I think Sunshine In Paris is good enough, and I feel she showed that then.”

“I’m happy to take a slot for The Everest from anybody with one. I think Sunshine In Paris is good enough, and I feel she showed that then.” - Annabel Neasham

Sunshine In Paris is the third foal from the Zabeel (NZ) mare Zenaida (NZ). Zenaida was also sold at the 2023 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale, where she made $1.4 million selling to Yulong.

Sunshine In Paris is Zenaida’s second stakes performer, having also produced the Group 3-winning victress Macroura (Snitzel).

The mare’s sire Invader is standing the 2023 breeding season at Aquis in Queensland for $11,000 (inc GST).

Sunshine In Paris
Sheraco S
Skew Wiff
Tarzino Trophy
McEwen S