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Ad Imperatriz was at her explosive best winning the Group 1 Manikato Stakes on Cox Plate Day. (Reg Ryan/Racing Photos)

Group 1 Darley Champions Sprint Preview

10 November 2023 Written by Racing And Sports

All about the mares in the Sprint with Imperatriz playing away from home against a super straight sprinter.

Imperatriz has been nothing short of sensational this preparation. She’s won all three starts, four on the bounce going back to last campaign, and run an identical rating of 124 each time.

If she runs to that number in Saturday’s Group 1 Darley Champions Sprint (1200m) at Flemington, she’s a genuine $1.30 chance, and given she’s run it her past four starts, the chances of her not running it slim with each outing.

The case to be made against her is obvious. Other than that she’s now racing at least two faster horses than her past couple of starts, is that she steps away from The Valley where she has been so electric.

Her ability to launch around the tight turning Valley has been exceptional, but will it convert to the straight track. There’s certainly no reason to suggest it won’t, and getting bogged down about these things will probably do more harm than good, but it will be in the back of punter’s minds.

Especially when her biggest market danger In Secret, is unbeaten in two starts down the straight six, both in Group Ones, and both rating as her equal peak performance at 120. It’s still 1-2 lengths off what Imperatriz has been doing, but she looks right on track to be running that number.

She was outstanding and probably the run of the race in The Everest, charging home from a hopeless position in some enormous late sectionals to grab fourth. Interestingly, the form out of The Everest has been a bit cool. Think About It and Private Eye were both beaten last week, Cylinder flopped in the Coolmore and Hawaii Five Oh was just okay in the Golden Eagle.

That’s definitely harsh on Private Eye because it took a very strong performance from Bella Nipotina to run him down last week, going to a new career peak of 122. The problem with her peaks is that they come far less often. She’s run to 120+ three times now but there have been eight runs in between that rate varying levels below.

Also perhaps worth noting is her run in the Group 1 Yulong Stud Newmarket Handicap (1200m) won by In Secret where she dropped right out to finish 12th.

Others in the field are certainly talented, but this is a different level. To forecast both Imperatriz and In Secret, as well as the possibility of Bella Nipotina running another big race is highly unlikely.

I think the straight track is playing into the market too much. If this was at Caulfield, or Geelong, or Pakenham, Imperatriz has to be shorter than the even money being offered. I think she’s a $1.70 chance and I’m happy to back in her ratings in what is a genuine chance to back her, which we might not often get.

Tickets for TAB Champions Stakes Day, featuring three $3 million championship Group 1 races to close out the 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival, are still available for members and the general public.