Nigelissima leads home Cambridge trifecta in Prelude

Cambridge trainers Jeff McVean and Emma-Lee Browne completed a big weekend in style when Nigelissima stormed home to win the Listed $50,000 Jesters Pies Championship Stakes Prelude at Ellerslie today. 

The Pentire filly charged past the hot favourite, the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Show The World, inside the final 100 metres to win by three-quarters of a length. Show The World held second comfortably from another Cambridge three-year-old, Satay. 

McVean and Browne took a gamble with Nigelissima and not only completed an unbeaten record for the stable over the weekend but also added to their NZ Derby dream.

The father and daughter partnership entered four hopefuls for the Gr. 1 $750,000 TV3 NZ Derby, the Ellerslie 2400-metre feature on March 1 which the stable won in 2001 with Leica Guv. And now all of them have been winners.

Dresden Park became the first winner from the group when scoring won at Ellerslie two starts ago and was fifth in a Dunstan Feeds Championship Qualifier at Ellerslie last Wednesday, then last Friday at Tauranga Blizzard stormed home to win over 2100 metres then a race later stablemate Sir Lancelot scored over 1600 metres.

The attention then switched to Nigelissima to break maiden ranks and rather than opt for the easier choice, a special conditions maiden at Te Rapa yesterday, McVean and Browne decided to throw the Pentire filly into the deep end and step up to Listed class in today’s Jesters Pies Championship Stakes Prelude (2100m).

“She was going to run on Saturday, but when they left the noms open we chucked a cheeky one in and I’m glad we did,” said Browne as she struggled to contain her excitement.

Though she hadn’t won in three previous starts, Nigelissima had been runner-up on debut over 1400 metres at Avondale and had been desperately unlucky when second to Super Mover at Te Aroha on December 2 when stepping up to 1600 metres.

Anyone who witnessed her Te Aroha run, when she was blocked until the race was virtually over then flew home, should have given her respect today. After all there was only one stakeswinner in the field and the remaining seven runners, which included the highly rated Show The World, were one-race winners.

Browne gave credit to rider Alysha Collett and it was well-deserved. Collett didn’t have things go her way on the filly but she didn’t panic.

Nigelissima, at odds of 17/1,  began awkwardly and almost dislodged Collett at the start but the Pukekohe apprentice quickly regained her composure and had her mount across from her outside draw to settle last on the fence.

With runners slowing up in front of her and crowding her on the fence, Nigelissima started throwing her head about but Collett took control of the situation. She had her travelling nicely approaching the home turn, even though second-last.

As the pace quickened on the home turn Show The World, who had tracked the leader Zaragoza for most of the trip,  became under pressure and Zaragoza kicked in front, while Satay kept fighting and King Savionsky loomed up on the outer with the rest of the field closing ranks.

On straightening Collett had improved Nigelissima right up behind Show The World and a narrow gap on his outer emerged. By the time the gap had widened enough for Nigelissima to go through Show The World had rallied and kicked past Zaragoza. Once balanced up Nigelissima stormed at Show The World and went by to win with authority.

Nigelissima has been a back-runner in each of her starts and she appreciated the step up from 1600 to 2100 metres.

“She’s always looked for more ground and she relaxes so well out the back,” said Browne, whose options for the filly include the Gr. 2 NZ Bloodstock Royal Stakes (2000m) and the Gr. 2 The Sound Championship Stakes (2100m), both $100,000 races at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.

Nigelissima has the bloodlines to make her mark in the features, being from the same family as the ill-fated Ad Alta, the top filly on the 1999-2000 NZ Three-Year-Old Free Handicap. Ad Alta won seven races, including the Gr. 1 NZ 1000 Guineas, the Gr. 2 AJC Surround Stakes, the Gr. 2 Great Northern Guineas and the Gr. 2 Avondale Guineas.

Ad Atla’s half-sister Posing (five wins, including Listed Rotorua Stakes) is the grandam of Nigelissima and the dam of Zanna (by Nigelissima’s sire Pentire), whose six wins in Australia included the Gr. 2  VRC Empire Rose SDtakes and Gr. 3 MVRC Tesio Stakes.

Nigelissima is from the unraced Danzero mare Posing Zero and was withdrawn from the 2012 National Yearling Sales.  A sister to Nigelissima was bought for $40,000 by Pukekohe trainer Richard Collett from last January’s Premier Yearling Sale and a brother is part of the Rich Hill Stud draft in the Select Session at Karaka on January 29.