20th August 2022
Ciaron Maher and David Eustace
Valley targets for Bella Nipotina
There is no shortage of sprinting options for a Stakes-performed mare in spring, but David Eustace indicated Bella Nipotina could be kept to Moonee Valley for much of this campaign in search of an elusive Group 1 victory.
Backed from $3.10 into $2.60 favourite on Saturday, Bella Nipotina defeated four rivals in the $175,000 Listed Long Fine Hospitality Supplies Carlyon Stakes (1000m).
The Valley hosts three weight-for-age sprints at G1 level each season, with Bella Nipotina being prepared for the richest of the trio, the $2 million G1 Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m) on Cox Plate Eve (October 21).
“That’s been the plan (to go to the Manikato) for a while,” said Eustace, who trains in partnership with Ciaron Maher. “It’s great to kick her off like this.”
Bella Nipotina settled in the box seat in the small field for Craig Williams and chased down leader Mileva ($11) to win by a long head. Extremely Lucky ($2.80) settled last and closed for third, a further three-quarters of a length away.
“They’ve prepared her really well for today, Ciaron and David, and she gave me a really nice armchair ride,” Williams said.
“I was a bit worried because Jamie (Kah) got the favourite (Extremely Lucky) out really quick and snug and I thought she’s just going to be straight back in behind us and I was very mindful of that.
“I could feel Jamie (Kah) coming at the top of the straight, I thought ‘This will be a horse race, we’ll see how good she is’ and my horse was a little bit too good today.”
Bella Nipotina could have her next start in the G2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) at The Valley on September 3, with the $1m G1 Moir Stakes (1000m) on September 23 at the same venue also looming as a possible option ahead of the Manikato.
“She’s just incredibly tough and danced every dance over the past 12 to 18 months. She is possibly getting better again. She is just so versatile and tough,” Eustace said.
Maher and Eustace trained four winners at The Valley on Saturday, the first time the training combination has prepared four Melbourne winners on the same card.
“It’s a great day for the team so thanks to them,” Eustace said.
Carl Di Iorio