Imperatriz might be the hot favourite for Saturday’s Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning, but the Ciaron Maher Racing team has faith that its mare Bella Nipotina can cause a minor upset in the sprint contest.

The pair met at the barrier trials at Cranbourne last week, where Bella Nipotina finished second and Imperatriz an underwhelming fifth, and they’ll clash once more at Flemington on the weekend.

“She is an iron mare, she is going as good as ever and she would need to bring her A game, Imperatriz, to be a winning hope,” said assistant trainer Jack Turnbull regarding Bella Nipotina’s winning chances.

Bella Nipotina has won close to $8 million in prizemoney, is already a G1 winner and has competed all across the country, but Turnbull agreed with the notion that the mare doesn’t get the credit from racing fans that she deserves.

“I think she’s always raced around better-credentialled horses with more of a rap, but she keeps putting her hand up and she had a very good prep last time in, in terms of prizemoney,” Turnbull said.

“That’s fine, as long as she keeps performing well, that’s all we want.”

Bella Nipotina’s greatest victories in the 2022 Manikato Stakes and the 2023 Giga Kick Stakes were both around a bend, but Turnbull believes that she’s just as effective on the straight course at Flemington, pointing to her fifth in last year’s G1 Champions Sprint as evidence of that.

“Her last run down the straight was enormous, she travelled down off a quick back-up and we couldn’t fault her,” he said.

“I think the straight’s no worries, it’s just going to be where she draws, where the speed is and if horses show up on the day.”

WATCH: Craig Cam footagfe of Bella Nipotina’s trial

Fields for Flemington –

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