Pride throws down challenge to connections of Imperatriz

Te Akau Racing's declaration that the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes is a possible target for Imperatriz has not phased Think About It's trainer Joe Pride in the slightest.

Pride's Everest winner is scheduled to resume in the Randwick feature and, renowned for enjoying a bit of friendly rivalry, Pride says talk that Imperatriz could figure among his charge's opponents is just that – talk.

"She'll get scared, she won't come up," Pride quipped.

Te Akau Racing issued a statement on Saturday confirming that Imperatriz would have her next start on March 9 in either the Canterbury Stakes (1300m) in Sydney, or the Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington.

The top mare finished runner-up to Artorius in the Canterbury Stakes last year and hasn't been beaten in six subsequent starts.

Think About It's stablemate Private Eye went down narrowly to her in a slowly run Lightning Stakes last start and while Pride's Canterbury Stakes comment was tongue-in-cheek, there is little doubt he would relish an opportunity for Think About It to avenge that defeat.

The outstanding sprinter will be the star attraction at a Warwick Farm barrier trial session on Monday as he ramps up preparations for his return.

The five-year-old will be partnered by regular jockey Sam Clipperton in an 800m heat, his second appearance after splitting three-year-old's Don Corleone and King's Gambit in a February 12 hit-out.

Think About It and Sam Clipperton, picture

While most horses are asked to extend themselves further at their second trial, Pride says Think About It is such a professional racehorse, they have to rein in his enthusiasm.

"He's a really genuine horse and we're always holding him back to be honest," he said.

"He will trial well because he's a good horse and I just can't wait to get him to the races."

Meanwhile, Pride has another rising talent on his hands in Winx's half-sister City Of Lights, who resumed with an outstanding win at Canterbury on Friday night.

In a solidly run race, City Of Lights settled better than midfield and made a long and sustained run to take out the 1550 metre event by a widening 1-3/4 lengths.

By Deep Impact out of Winx's dam Vegas Showgirl, City Of Lights has now won three of her five starts and Pride will give her an opportunity to garner some black type during the carnival.

"The Epona Stakes is the race I want to get to with her," Pride said.

"I love her, she is a really nice mare.

"It's hard to get out of your mind she is Winx's half-sister, but I think she has got a lot of quality."

The Group 3 Epona Stakes (1900m) is at Rosehill on March 23.