The Valley

HISTORY AT THE VALLEY ON LADBROKES COX PLATE DAY BY BEN CALUZZI It was a day of firsts on the weekend at The Valley in both feature races, as Imperatriz became the first horse ever to complete the Group 1 sprinting triple crown in the Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes, while Romantic Warrior became the first Hong Kong trained horse to win the Ladbrokes Cox Plate. Imperatriz had won her last three starts at The Valley coming into Saturday, and was priced as if unbeatable at $1.40 on race morning. With the lone Everest runner Buenos Noches scratched at the gates after bleeding from the mouth, followed by expected leader Jigsaw being slowly away, Opie Bosson took up the initiative and took the star mare to the lead for the first time in her career. What proceeded was a painless watch for her backers and her connections, with the daughter of I Am Invincible controlling affairs to streak away a dominant 3.2 length winner. With that victory, Imperatriz became the first horse ever to win the William Reid Stakes, Moir Stakes and Manikato since all races have had Group 1 status, in the same year. In other record-breaking news, it was also her eighth Group 1 victory overall and her fifth of the season, surpassing Paddington to become the world’s leading Group 1 winner of 2023. Trainer Mark Walker was full of praise for her jockey Opie Bosson, stating the tactics change mid-race was a stroke of brilliance. “That’s the genius of Opie”, Walker said. “He jumped so well, so why take away that advantage? I think she had it in the bag a long way from home really.” Opie Bosson has ridden some of Te Akau’s best horses in recent memory, including Melody Belle and Te Akau Shark, but says Imperatriz is the best he’s ever ridden, and by some margin. “She’s just something special… she is by far (the best horse I’ve ridden).” Racegoers only had to wait 50 minutes to witness another special piece of history at The Valley, as Romantic Warrior won an epic renewal of the Ladbrokes Cox Plate and became the first Hong Kong trained horse to win Australia’s Best Race.