The Phenomenal 6yo Bella Nipotina

She's courageous and tough!

Few, if any, horses in Australian racing have clocked up more Frequent Flyer miles than mighty mare Bella Nipotina (Pride of Dubai) recently, but it didn’t stop her from winning a second career Gr1 on Saturday in the Doomben 10,000.

The 6YO mare has raced five times this preparation – in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.

The 6yo mare Bella Nipotina wins the Doomben 10 000

Bella Nipotina wins the Doomben 10 000 (Pic – Inglis)

She hasn’t finished any further back than fourth each time but returned to the peak of her game, scoring a stunning last-to-first win in the Queensland feature.

Ridden by Craig Williams, the Ciaron Maher-trained Bella Nipotina was slow out of the barriers, forced to settle in an uncustomary position at the tail of the field for the bulk of the race.

But Williams bided his time and saved the mare for one barnstorming sprint, only hitting the front in the last stride to defeat race favourite I Wish I Win.

The victory, her 8th win from 49 career starts, took Bella Nipotina’s career earnings to a staggering A$9.8m.

Bred by Michael Christian, Bella Nipotina was just an A$80,000 purchase out of the Rosemont Stud draft at the Premier Yearling Sale for Lindsay Park, Andrew Williams and Mt Hallowell Stud.

She is one of 98 individual Gr1-winning Inglis graduates since 2018 and one of 44 that could have been purchased for A$100,000 or less in that period.

Maher described Bella Nipotina as “phenomenal’’ following Saturday’s victory.

“She hasn’t been in her stable any more than three days over the past two weeks, she was in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle and now Brisbane. She’s an unbelievable mare,’’ the trainer said.

“I thought about the conditions and the track, everything suited and then when we jumped from the barriers I thought we had no chance but Craig knows her really well, he took his medicine and it was unbelievable.’’

Michael Christian admitted to being “humbled’’ at what Bella Nipotina continues to achieve on the track as a rising 7YO.

“You need to remember she was racing as an October 2YO, she got beaten a lip in the Inglis Millennium at two and here she is as a late 6YO winning a Gr1 against some phenomenal horses,’’ Christian said.

“Look at her past few runs, she didn’t get any favours in the Gr1 TJ Smith Stakes and ran 2nd, then she raced three-wide the trip in the A$5m Quokka and was gallant and then she missed the start and to be able to win from where she was was just unbelievable.

“And she ran down I Wish I Win, who is an incredible sprinter in his own right.’’

Bella Nipotina will now be aimed at the Gr1 Tatt’s Tiara at Eagle Farm in late June.

“We’ve always wanted to see her at 1400m, she’s only run past 1200m once and that was 1300m in the A$3m Giga Kick which she won so the 1400m of the Tatt’s Tiara is where she’s headed,’’ Christian confirmed.

“There’s also the Gr1 Kingsford Smith Cup in a couple of weeks she could go to first but that depends on how she pulls up and what we think is best for her.’’

At Scone on Saturday, Opal Ridge (Rubick) showed she was on track for a clash with Bella Nipotina in the Gr1 Tatt’s Tiara with a dominant first-up win in the Listed Ortensia Stakes.

Trained by Luke Pepper, Opal Ridge announced herself as a genuine top-level performer when scoring an explosive win in the Listed Luskin Star Stakes on the corresponding Scone card 12 months ago.

She then ventured to the Brisbane Winter Carnival but didn’t have the required luck in her two runs, which resulted in a Gr2 second placing and fifth in the Tatt’s Tiara.

But Pepper believes the mare is more furnished now and he will follow the exact same path this year with his mare in a bid to secure both their first Gr1 victory.

“She’s just going so well, I had a little bit left in the tank knowing what was to come the next few weeks but to see her win like that, wow,’’ Pepper said.

“She doesn’t know how to run a bad race, she’s just so genuine. We’ll head to the Tatt’s again now, most likely via the Dane Ripper again like last year and see if she can’t right some wrongs of 12 months ago.

“She deserves a Gr1, hopefully it’s not far away now.’’

Opal Ridge is a A$20,000 Classic Yearling Sale bargain buy for Ryan Hunt, out of the draft of her breeder Carramar Park.

She has now won seven of her 17 starts for almost A$1.3m in prizemoney.

In the Listed Luskin Star Stakes at Scone, Coastwatch (Fastnet Rock) led in a trifecta of Inglis graduates when defeating Amenable and Gravina.

The Richard and Will Freedman-trained Coastwatch is another Inglis Digital success story, selling to Yu Hau Chan for A$500,000 online in May 2022.

He is well on the way to paying back his new connections and looks set for more black type success in the near future based off the strength of Saturday’s win.

Coastwatch was one of three Inglis Digital Stakes victors as Aureus Angel (Turffontein) won the Listed Bright Shadow Stakes at Doomben and Western Empire (Iffraaj) proved too strong in the Gr3 Belmont Sprint in Perth.

The Chris Munce-trained Aureus Angel cost just A$2500 to the bid of Andrew Baddock in the 2022 Inglis Digital September Sale.

Since then, she has raced nine times for five wins and four minor placings and earned A$275,000 in prizemoney, an extraordinary return for her connections.

And Western Empire scored a thrilling last stride win in Perth, the ninth victory of his career.

It was also a second consecutive black type victory for the Grant and Alana Williams-trained 6YO, who also won the Gr3 Northam Sprint earlier this month.

Western Empire, already a Gr1 winner earlier in his career, sold to Dean Harvey for A$150,000 in last year’s Inglis Digital October Online Sale.

He has raced three times since for two wins and a third placing.

Entries for the Inglis Digital May Sale are now open and will remain so until midnight on Wednesday. Noting the past two sales have filled to capacity, vendors are strongly encouraged to get entries in as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.


Image linked to weekly Sprint

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