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Image: Bruno Cannatelli
Imperatriz is progressing nicely for a first-up in the Lightning Stakes at Flemington

Star sprinter Imperatriz will take a step towards a planned racetrack return at Flemington with a jump-out at Mornington.

Imperatriz, who is scheduled to make her reappearance in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington next month, had been entered for a jump-out at Cranbourne on Monday, but Ben Gleeson, the Melbourne-based assistant trainer for New Zealand conditioner Mark Walker, said that was as a precaution after a gallop between races at Cranbourne on Friday night.

Gleeson said Imperatriz would head to Mornington on Wednesday for her first jump-out ahead of another likely jump-out at Cranbourne to have her primed for her first-up assault.

The seven-time Group 1 winner galloped with stablemate Skew Wiff on Friday night under Michael Dee.

“She went there for a build-up piece of work and if we had decided not to give her a jump-out, we would have been happy,” Gleeson said.

“Mick got off her and said she felt bigger and stronger, which is a bit scary, so hopefully she proves that.”

Imperatriz went through the spring undefeated, winning her last three starts at Group 1 level, including the Champions Sprint (1200m) at Flemington on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

In the lead-up to that contest, the stable was granted permission to gallop Imperatriz on the straight track, but Gleeson said he was unsure whether permission would be granted for a return trip ahead of the Lightning Stakes.

“We might be able to go for a gallop, but if everything panned out the way we hope, it probably won’t fit into our schedule,” Gleeson said.

“It’s a long trip across town for a gallop. It worked for us in the spring, but we’ll keep that up our sleeve.”

Skew Wiff is being prepared for a first-up tilt at the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on February 24.

Gleeson said the stable was trying to work out what weight the mare may get in the sprint, but he is happy with the she is coming to hand.

“She’s on track for two jump-outs and then kick off in the Oakleigh Plate,” Gleeson said.

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