Her toughness has made her a crowd favourite and, leading up to this spring, sprinter Bella Nipotina has given every indication she’ll be a force to be reckoned with once again.
Last year’s Group 1 Manikato Stakes winner took a spin around her preferred track The Valley on Tuesday morning, with her gallop pleasing both jockey Ethan Brown and co-trainer David Eustace.
“She worked nicely, very sharp,” said Eustace, who trains in partnership with Ciaron Maher.
“She worked with Generation and they both worked well, Mark (Zahra) and Ethan (Brown) were happy with the both of them.
“They’ll trial again Monday and kick off over 1000m either at The Valley or at Caulfield.
“I would say Bella Nipotina would run first-up here (in the Listed Carlyon Stakes), she has a great record here and she loves it here so she’ll almost certainly kick off here at The Valley.”
Last spring, the now six-year-old started her campaign with victory in the Listed Carlyon Stakes (1000m) before progressing third-up to a well-deserved G1 victory in the Manikato, which will again be her main target for the preparation.
“It’s moved this year, it’s now two weeks beyond The Everest, but there’s also a very valuable race up in Sydney on that day. So I think probably the strength of the Manikato won’t be altered that much by that movement and she loves the Valley,” he said.
After showing career-best form last spring, the Pride Of Dubai mare had five runs in the autumn across three states, including a placing in the G1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at The Valley and a third in the $4 million The Quokka (1200m) behind Overpass and Amelia’s Jewel.
But the versatile galloper wasn’t able to add to her G1 tally, finishing 12th of 16 runners in the Newmarket Handicap (1200m) and unplaced in her final preparation run in the Sangster (1200m) in Adelaide in May.
“Undoubtedly we see her at her absolute best with give in the ground and she didn’t really get that opportunity,” Eustace said.
“She was pretty consistent. I think you can forget the Newmarket run where she was probably ridden a little bit close on quick ground.
“Albeit that we probably didn’t see the best of her, she was still very tough and she’s been able to have a nice-enough break and I think she’s in for a good campaign. ”
Bella Nipotina is at $8 in early markets for this year’s Manikato Stakes.
Bella Nipotina wasn’t the only stable star on show at The Valley from the Maher and Eustace yard, with Melbourne Cup winner Gold Trip also continuing his build up to the spring with a gallop under regular rider Mark Zahra.
“He worked nicely, he’s been trialling at home and we’ve been keen just to give him a couple of trips away, he came here a fortnight ago, worked well and did the same today,” he said.
“He’s on track, he’s never been a flashy worker, it’s just good to have a change of scenery for him and he’ll trial again at Cranbourne on Monday.”
Eustace again confirmed the stable is yet to map out a return run for Gold Trip but outlined he will follow a similar path to his five-start spring preparation last year, culminating in the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup.
“It will just depend on where the ground is most suitable, he’s very well-travelled and he’ll be ready to run in the middle of September and we know there’s an option here (in Melbourne) and there’s an option in Sydney and it will just depend on the ground,” he said.
“He’s going to have to carry weight wherever it is so we’re mostly just mindful of the ground with him.”