With a big weight advantage Cylinder was able to win the G1 VRC Newmarket Handicap at the expense of mighty I Am Invincible mare Imperatriz, but he was not a factor when she added a 10th Group One victory to her collection with another supreme performance in Saturday’s $1 million Group I MVRC William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.

Imperatriz became Te Akau Racing’s second mare to reach 10 Group One wins. She has followed in the famous footsteps of Melody Belle, who won 14 times at the elite level in the colours of affiliate syndicators Fortuna Racing. Imperatriz has now moved one ahead of another outstanding Te Akau mare in Avantage, who won nine Group Ones before fetching a record price of $4.1 million on Gavelhouse Plus in 2021.

Fittingly, the 10th Group One win for Imperatriz came with a successful defence of her William Reid Stakes title. She recorded her first Australian victory in the same race 12 months ago, kicking off an extraordinary sequence that saw her add the G2 McEwen Stakes (1000m), G1 Moir Stakes (1000m), G1Manikato Stakes (1200m), G1 Champions Sprint (1200m) and G1 Lightning Stakes (1000m).

That winning streak was broken with a gallant second under 58kg in the Group I Newmarket Handicap (1200m) on March 9, but Imperatriz returned to her favourite track on Saturday and resumed her unstoppable weight-for-age form.

Drawn awkwardly in gate nine, Imperatriz jumped well before settling in midfield for her regular jockey Opie Bosson. She began to move forward coming down the side of the track, creeping into fourth at the 300m before pouncing at the home turn.

Bosson went for gold and drove Imperatriz clear, taking command with less than 200m remaining. Longshot Johnny Rocker produced a career-best performance to provide a late scare, but Imperatriz had enough up her sleeve to hold him out by a head with another daughter of I Am Invincible, I Am Me in third place.

“This is a great thrill, especially after the Newmarket,” trainer Mark Walker said. “She really dug deep that day. For her to come back here and do it again at her favourite track, it’s a bit of a relief.”

Bosson has now ridden Imperatriz to 12 victories, nine of them at Group One level.

“I got off her after the Newmarket and told Mark that it would be hard to beat her in any weight-for-age race from now on,” Bosson said. “I’m glad she came out and won the way she did today.

“I got in behind Bella Nipotina, who I thought would take me into the race, but she didn’t really cart me into it. I had to make quite a long run down the side.

“But once she gets on that right leg in the straight here, she’s just amazing. You can feel her picking up underneath you, and once she balances up, she’s just class.”

Purchased from the Bhima Thoroughbreds draft at Magic Millions by David Ellis for $360,000. Imperatriz is now unbeaten in five starts at Moonee Valley, and she has had a total of 26 starts for 19 wins, four placings and more than $6.8 million in stakes.

“She’s just a joy,” Te Akau’s Karyn Fenton-Ellis said. “I know it’s easy to find superlatives about top horses that perform at the highest level, but she has heart, courage and tenacity, and she’s just a sweetheart. We’ve loved her since the day we met her, and now she’s been so embraced here in Australia. She may be Aussie-bred, but she’s definitely a Kiwi.

“It’s a wonderful syndicate that races her. David Ellis bought her at the Magic Millions Sale and she was our very last yearling to sell that year. She sat on the website and sat on the website. People often say to me that they’d love to have a share in a horse like her – well, they could have, and we’ve still got some of this year’s purchases available now to have a look at.”

Bred by Malaysian businessman Dato Yap Kim San’s Raffles Farm, Imperatriz is another nod to the success of the breeding operation, which was managed by Bruce Sherwin since it was established in 2008 and in addition to Imperatriz has produced the likes of Group One winners Glint Of Hope, More Than Sacred and First Seal.

Economic pressures stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic forced Dato Yap to sacrifice his ‘hobby’ thoroughbred breeding operation to secure his core businesses throughout Asia. Raffles Farm, on the outskirts of Cambridge, was sold in 2022, along with almost the entirety of Dato Yap’s Australasian bloodstock portfolio.

Imperatriz is the best of two winners from Berimbau, a Group II placed half-sister by Shamardal (USA) to stakes-winner Vinco, who is also by Imperatriz’s sire I Am invincible.

The family also features Group winners Royal Courtship and Poor Judge as well as stakes-winner Proud Player.

Berimbau was sold last year in foal again to I Am Invincible for $1.8million at the Inglis Chairman’s Sale to Yulong and has since produced a full brother to Imperatriz.

Imperatriz is the most successful Group I winner for Yarraman Park’s champion sire I Am Invincible, who holds a commanding lead on the Australian General Sires List by earnings and stakes-winners.