Bella Nipotina on track for Manikato Stakes

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Bonny mare fought hard in the shadows of the post to add more blacktype to her wrap sheet, with a tough win in the Listed at .

The -trained five-year-old settled down midfield under in the 1000m feature, before letting down with her customary turn of foot to her first win at Moonee Valley.

It was the mare's sixth start at the track, and while she was yet to win there, she had been the bridesmaid on four occasions, including a second in last year's (1200m).

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Co-trainer David Eustace said the daughter of Of Dubai is likely to head to that same race in the coming weeks in the hope of winning her first Group 1 and getting justice for 12 months ago.

“She's danced every dance really over the last 12/18 months,” Eustace said.

“She is possibly getting better again, and ultimately she's getting back here for the Manikato – that's the plan.

“That's been the plan for a while. There's obviously an awful lot of sprint races for her throughout the spring in Sydney as well; she can travel, she's incredibly brave, so it's great to kick off the campaign like this.”

Bella Nipotina is now likely to head to a race like the McEwan Stakes, before tackling her Group 1 target, with the three weeks between runs likely to suit Eustace's “versatile” mare.

“It's three weeks to that (McEwan), which is ideal,” he said.

“She is just so versatile and so tough, which is a credit to .”

Craig Williams partnered the mare for the fourth time on Saturday, with the pair now having combined for two wins and two minor placings.

“She's ready-made for me,” the winning hoop said.

“They've prepared her really well for today – Ciaron & David and all their staff – and she gave me a really nice armchair ride today.”

Bella Nipotina is now a $13 chance with online bookmakers for the Manikato Stakes on October 21.

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