Ad Imperatriz with assistant trainer Ben Gleeson. (Scott Barbour/Racing Photos)

Technology keeps Walker in the loop with Imperatiz

13 February 2024 Written by Racing & Sports

Mark Walker is happy with the condition of Imperatriz as she prepares for the Black Caviar Lightning at Flemington.

Modern technology has kept New Zealand-based trainer Mark Walker up to date with how star mare Imperatriz has been progressing, however there is nothing like seeing her in the flesh. 

Walker arrived in Melbourne on Sunday afternoon and headed straight to Cranbourne to check on the mare before she travelled to Moonee Valley for a gallop on Monday morning. 

That Valley gallop was the last serious piece of work for Imperatriz ahead of the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on Saturday where she is expected to meet seven rivals. 

Imperatriz ridden by Opie Bosson wins the Darley Champions Sprint at Flemington in November 2023. (Brett Holburt/Racing Photos)

It has been well documented that Imperatriz has been struggling in the hot conditions in Melbourne of late, but Walker and his Australian staff, headed by Ben Gleeson, have adopted tactics in a bid to overcome that issue. 

A trip to the pool at the Cranbourne training centre each afternoon and the addition of some extra fans have helped Imperatriz remain calm. 

Walker trained in Singapore for 11 years where it was hot and humid every day, and while some ideas can be adapted, mostly a change in Melbourne's weather will bring the best relief. 

"I'd been getting video updates on a regular basis and modern technology is pretty good, so I knew how well she was coming along," Walker said. 

"So, I wasn't too concerned. 

"It's hot in Singapore every day whereas on Wednesday it's dropping down to 20 degrees, so it's quite a bit different. 

"It was a matter of getting some extra fans for her just to make her comfortable. Those seem to have work and she's a lot more settled and swimming is part of her regular routine." 

Success on Saturday would be Imperatriz's fourth Group 1 win in her last five starts. 

She went through the spring undefeated, but Walker is not expecting Saturday's race to be an easy assignment. 

"They certainly don't give Group 1's away," he said. 

"Anyone of those horses in the nominations could easily win that race on Saturday." 

Walker met with Cranbourne Turf Club chief executive officer Neil Bainbridge and a builder on Tuesday over plans to expand the number of boxes the trainer has access too at Cranbourne. 

The plan is to expand from 20 to 70 boxes with Walker looking at a permanent shift to Melbourne, potentially in 12 months' time. 

"We're getting to the stage of the final plans and then we'll sign off on it," Walker said. 

"It will be a challenge when I move, but it should be an enjoyable one and we now have the stable set up how we want it back home." 

Join us in celebrating the legacy of the great Black Caviar whose stellar career consisted of 25 undefeated races. Some of the world’s fastest horses will be lining up in the $1,000,000 Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m), named in the legendary mare’s honour.

The Flemington Fareground makes an exciting return, transformed into an ultimate resort style experience, entrance is free with your race day ticket. Find out more