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Bella out to revive memories of Tiaras past

Thu 27 June 2024

By Mandy Cottell 

Ciaron Maher did a double take when Bella Nipotina first strode into his stable.

The first time Ciaron Maher set eyes on Bella Nipotina, he could see instant parallels with another of his grand mares.

Those similarities will take on a new dimension at Eagle Farm on Saturday if Bella Nipotina can emulate the horse she has revived memories of, Srikandi, by winning the Group 1 Tatt's Tiara.

Srikandi gave Maher his sole win in the fillies' and mares feature in 2015, her victory coming on the back of a Stradbroke Handicap success, while Bella Nipotina will be chasing the Doomben 10,000-Tatt's Tiara double.

As well as both being top-class mares, Maher says Srikandi and Bella Nipotina have a lot of traits in common.

"They're very similar types, very similar demeanours, very similar in every way," Maher said.

"Their make-up, their conformation, even their colour.

"I thought she wasn't quite as strong as Srikandi when we first got her, but she has matured into a very similar horse."

Bella Nipotina has evolved into a darling of the turf, renowned for her bravery and fortitude in winning eight of her 51 starts and recording another 23 minor placings, her latest effort a narrow second in the Stradbroke Handicap.

She conceded winner Stefi Magnetica six kilos in Queensland's showpiece race and returns to weight-for-age conditions on Saturday, not even the prospect of barrier 17 for the second race in a row flustering Maher.

"I don't worry too much about barriers with her," he said.

"She had a horror gate last start and over the space of her career - in the Moir (Stakes) one day she drew badly and she still ran second and that was around The Valley.

"She has been just as effective from wide as inside, and no rhyme or reason for why."

Bella Nipotina has had a busy campaign and for Maher, that has been back of mind.

The Tiara will be her ninth run in a preparation that kicked off in Melbourne in February, encompassed a trip to Perth for The Quokka and also Sydney and Brisbane carnival bids.

Maher travelled to Queensland last week to cast an eagle eye over Bella Nipotina, trying to find a negative and pull up stumps, but he couldn't fault her.

"I watched her do a piece of work on Saturday with a view to being very critical, but she is just thriving," he said.

"She's enjoying her time up there. I think she even looks better."

Bella Nipotina is a solid $2.70 favourite, while stablemate Semana is also given a show as a $12 chance.

The winner of the Triscay Stakes earlier this year, she drew the outside gate in the Stradbroke and got too far out of her ground but was warming up late.

"When she missed the start, that was basically her race done," Maher said of the Stradbroke.

"She looks fantastic, I'm rapt with the way she has bounced through it, and her work looks good.

"This is a race we have targeted for her for quite a while and 1400 metres is ideal."

Dylan Gibbons maintains his association with Semana, while Ryan Maloney has picked up the plum ride on Bella Nipotina, replacing regular hoop Craig Williams who is in the Ukraine on a humanitarian mission.