Ben Melham to ride Bella Nipotina in The Quokka

There would not be as many well-travelled mares in Australia than the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Bella Nipotina.

The rising six-year-old will add Perth to the list of Australian capital cities she has raced in when a starter in the $4 million The Quokka (1200m) at Ascot on Saturday.

Bella Nipotina started her career with David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig before Hayes senior departed for Hong Kong and was transferred from Tom Dabernig and Ben Hayes to the Maher and Eustace stable in 2021.

As a two-year-old, Bella Nipotina raced in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide before adding Brisbane to her statistics in her last start as a three-year-old, and first for Maher and Eustace.

Bella Nipotina has been in Perth for a little over a week and has settled in well according to Eustace.

“She’s bombproof. She has travelled over really well,” Eustace said.

The mare is coming off a last start second to the impressive New Zealand-trained mare Imperatriz in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on March 24.

The Quokka is Perth’s foray into ‘slot races’ following on from the success of The Everest in Sydney.

Eustace said it was exciting to be a part of the first such race at Ascot.

“These slot races are a great concept and to race for such good prizemoney is fantastic,” Eustace said.

“I think the timing of it is quite smart too. It gives the opportunity for horses to go over who might have raced in the T J (Smith Stakes), obviously we raced in the William Reid, so they’ve got the timing right.”

Ben Melham heads over to ride Bella Nipotina on Saturday with the mare drawn ideally in barrier six.

Maher and Eustace have not been regular visitors to the Perth Summer Carnival since joining forces in a training partnership in 2018.

Bella Nipotina will be the pair’s fifth starter at Ascot.

“We haven’t had many, but we had Steinem run there at the end of last year and she ran really well. She ran third in a Group 1,” Eustace said.

“Hopefully she (Bella Nipotina) can win.”

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