Backers of New Zealand sprinter Imperatriz were almost counting their winnings with 100m to go in the Gr.1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick on Saturday, but it was not to be.
The Mark Walker-trained mare was backed into favouritism for the Sydney feature following her dominant form in New Zealand where she had won her three previous starts, including the Gr.1 Railway (1200m), Gr.2 Westbury Classic (1400m), and Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m).
She looked a dominant force once more in her Australian debut and was given a peach of a ride by Champion jockey James McDonald, with the mare entering the straight poised to strike just outside leader Electric Girl.
Imperatriz hit the lead with 300m to go and looked to have the race sewn up after opening up a length and a half margin on her rival, however, Artorius was intent on spoiling the party when he emerged from the pack and showed a blistering turn of foot to run down the Kiwi raider to claim the Group One by a head.
Walker was understandably disappointed with the result, but he was proud of his mare’s efforts on debut in Australia.
“It was a very good run, it was just frustrating that we got beaten,” he said.
“But it just shows that she is up to that level, which is good going forward.
“We will see how she is in the next few days (before making a decision on her next target) and we will make up our mind then.”
Meanwhile, Te Akau had a pleasing day at Wingatui when winning the opening race of the card with Cu Chulainn before winning the Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1400m) with Romancing the Moon and placing in the same race with Miss Dunsford.
“It was a nice win yesterday by Cu Chulainn and he has got a nice future,” Walker said.
“Romancing The Moon will go up to Trentham now for the Levin Classic (Gr.1, 1600m) and Miss Dunsford will stay down south. There are some more Listed fillies races later on.”
Closer to home, the Matamata stable had a satisfying day at Te Rapa, including a winning result in the CIVIC Group 1300 courtesy of Fashion Shoot.
It was the Group Three performer’s fourth career victory and she will try and improve her tally when she heads to Awapuni next month.
“She will probably head to Manawatu for the Listed Flying Handicap (1400m) on April 1,” Walker said.
Later on the card, stablemate Fierce Flight was runner-up in the Nathans Memorial (2200m) behind Ladies Man, while Marvelouz ran third in the Gr.3 Sunline Vase (2100m).
Marvelouz, who runs in the yellow and black silks of Cambridge Stud principals Brendan and Jo Lindsay, has a few options ahead of her and Walker said he will finalise future plans with her owners in the coming days.
“We will just see how she is and I will talk with Henry (Plumptre, Cambridge Stud CEO), and Brendan and Jo, about her future plans,” Walker said.