At long last, Bella Nipotima is a deserving Group 1 winner.
And she did it in style for Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, saluting in the $2 million Manikato Stakes over 1200m by a very comfortable 4.75-lengths.
The star five-year-old mare walloped the field after breaking clear from the turn and from her inside barrier-one lane.
It was pure class from her and champion jockey Craig Williams.
2022 Manikato Stakes Replay
But Eustace admits there were some nervous moments early on.
“It wasn’t a very nice watch early on,” he told Racing.com.
“She was back and then when they came off the fence she got a saloon run.
“She so deserves this – the whole team has put so much into her.
“She’s so tough and it’s just great to reward the owners.
“To top it off with a Group 1 is very special.”
Eustace praised veteran hoop Williams’ calm and composed nature.
“Craig was pretty cool, calm and collected wasn’t he?” he said.
“Probably a bit more so than we were.
“In the back of his mind he knew they were going to come off the fence.
“He really only had one option but to take that route.”
Williams was delighted with the result on a mare he previously had five starts on for two wins.
“This mare has been really good to me,” he said.
“I remember getting beaten on her by her stablemate in Brisbane (third to Away Game in the WJ Healy Stakes on June 26 last year).
“And then Ciaron and David gave me an opportunity to ride her here. And she never got a crack at them.
“She was so gallant when we rode her at Caulfield (in the How Now Stakes on September 18 last year) and she was very dominant to win.
“And you can see what she did last preparation.”
With her record aboard her, Williams knew a breakthrough Group 1 win was just around the corner.
“When you went through her form, you realise that she’s such a handy, competitive horse,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter what the surface is. But she does love this type of (Heavy 8) track condition.”