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CAMPIONESSA TAKES AIM AT AUSTRALIAN GROUP ONE

Five-year-old mare Campionessa (NZ) (Contributer) has made her mark in domestic weight-for-age company this preparation and her impressive progress will be rewarded with a trip to Australia.


The Mark Walker-trained daughter of Contributer is to join her Te Akau Racing stablemate Imperatriz in Melbourne where the duo will chase seven-figure Group One purses.


Her recent efforts have earned her a tilt at the A$3 million Gr.1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday week, while the evening before Imperatriz (I Am Invincible) will contest the A$1 million Gr.1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at The Valley.


Campionessa finished runner-up behind star three-year-old Sharp ‘N’ Smart (NZ) (Redwood) in the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) two runs back before she was second to high-class filly Prowess in the Gr.1 New Zealand Stakes (2050m).


“She’ll go to the Australian Cup and it’s a race that may not be as strong as other years,” Walker said.


“Even if you run third it adds a fair bit of value to a mare and she’s going really well. She will fly over on Tuesday week.”


Opie Bosson will continue his association with Campionessa and will also be reunited with Imperatriz, who is already in Melbourne, after James McDonald rode her into a last-start second in the Gr.1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) when collared on the line by Artorius (Flying Artie).


“It was disappointing to come so close, but you just have to cop that on the chin,” Walker said.


“The upside was that she well and truly measured up over there.”


In the shorter-term, the stable will have two runners in Saturday’s Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) and three to contest the Gr.1 Gee & Hickton Funeral Directors Levin Classic (1600m).


Bosson will be aboard Family Ties (NZ) (Contributer), the joint second favourite at $8, and Jason Laking will partner Mehzebeen (NZ) (Almanzor), who is rated a $31 chance.


“I think it’s a very weak Oaks. It might be a year when a surprise packet can win but Family Ties is going well,” Walker said.


The Contributer filly won the Listed Oaks Prelude (1800m) two runs back before she finished sixth in the Gr.2 Lowland Stakes (2100m).


“She was desperately unlucky last start and if she had got out I think she would have gone close to winning,” Walker said.


“She would grow another leg if it was a wet track, she’s pretty good when there’s some give in it.”


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