Walker pair take aim at Melbourne Group Ones

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Five-year-old mare Campionessa 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 stablemate Imperatriz in Melbourne where the duo will chase seven-figure Group One purses.

Her recent efforts have earned her a tilt at the $3 million Australian Cup (2000m) at on Saturday week, while the evening before Imperatriz will contest the $1 million Group 1 Stakes (1200m) at The Valley.

Campionessa finished runner-up behind star three-year-old Sharp ‘N' Smart in the Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) two runs back before she was second to high-class filly in the Group 1 (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 Group 1 (1300m) when collared on the line by Artorius.

“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 Group 1 Oaks (2400m) and three to contest the Group 1 Levin Classic (1600m).

Bosson will be aboard , the joint second favourite at +700, and Jason Laking will partner Mehzebeen, who is rated a +3000 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 Group 2 (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.”

Mehzebeen earned a crack at the fillies feature when the daughter of Almanzor posted a last-start victory at the expense of the older horses.

“I know it was only a maiden, but she was strong at the end of 2200m and will run 2400m out easily,” Walker said.

Romancing The Moon, Skew Wiff and Fellini will represent the stable in the Levin Classic and Walker said it wasn't easy to single any one out.

“They have all got different form lines and it's hard to weigh them up,” he said.

“Kozzi Asano will ride Romancing The Moon, Opie will be on Skew Wiff and we haven't got a rider for Fellini yet.”

Romancing The Moon won the Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1400m) last time out and is rated a +900 chance, as is Skew Wiff who comfortably claimed a Rating 65 event most recently on her home track at Matamata.

Fellini finished a last-start third in an age group event at Awapuni to earn a +2000 quote.

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