Nigelissima on trial for Brisbane

Nigelissima (Vinnie Colgan) beating Highly Likely (inner) at Awapuni last October. (Photo: Race Images, PN).

Nigelissima (Vinnie Colgan) beating Highly Likely (inner) at Awapuni last October. (Photo: Race Images, PN).

Nigelissima could earn herself a trip to Brisbane with a bold showing in Saturday’s Gr. 2 Travis Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa.

The stakes-winning five-year-old mare goes into the Travis Stakes after a third placing when resuming in the Gr. 2 Japan-New Zealand International Trophy (1600m) at Tauranga and a last-start fourth in the Gr. 3 Manawatu Breeders Stakes (2000m) at Awapuni.

“It’s a big step up but she’s gone well at Te Rapa before,” said Emma-lee Browne, who trains in partnership with her husband David. “She’s still thriving and has dapples all over her and she’s done really well since Awapuni,”

“I would have preferred a bit of give in the track just to help with them running on from the back at Te Rapa because it can favour the frontrunners there when it’s dry.

“I thought she was pretty good at Awapuni. I thought she was all done at the turn but then she fought back bravely.

“It’s not really her racing pattern to be so handy and we’ll try to have her further back on Saturday.”

TAB bookmakers opened Nigelissima as a $16 outsider for the Travis in a market headed by Rasa Lila at $3.20 and Abidewithme at $4.20.

“If she runs up to her best form, I’d like to think she’d be right in it,” said Browne.

“If she ran in the first three, we’d think about taking her to Brisbane for some of those staying races over there.

“If she doesn’t run up to expectations, we’ll put her aside. She’ll keep till next season and we might have a look at Hastings in the spring.”

Alysha Collett has been booked for the ride on Nigelissima, reuniting with the mare for the first time since she won the Listed Championship Stakes Prelude (2100m) at Ellerslie then rode her to a fifth placing in the Gr. 2 Royal Stakes (2000m) at the same venue more than two years ago.

“It will be good to get them back together,” said Browne.

Meanwhile, talented stablemate Blizzard has been turned out for the winter.

A winner at Tauranga earlier this month, Blizzard finished 10th in last Saturday’s Gr.1 Easter Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie, beaten just two and a half lengths.

The merit of that performance had prompted trainers David and Emma-lee Browne to consider next month’s Gr. 3 Rotorua Cup (2200m), but Emma-lee Browne has since confirmed the couple have opted against that route.

“We’d tossed around the idea, but he’s only five and we think he could develop into one of those good older stayers, so we’ve decided to look after him now and hopefully get the rewards later on,” she said.