Nigelissima out of Derby but Blizzard on target

The Gr. 1 TV3 NZ Derby dream is over for the owners of Nigelissima after the smart filly suffered an injury at Ellerslie last Saturday.

The excitement over Nigelissima’s fifth placing behind Puccini in the Gr. 2 Auckland Eye Avondale Guineas was shattered the following day when swelling was noticed on the nearside hind leg of the Pentire filly.

“She’s injured her back fetlock,” said co-trainer Emma-Lee Browne. “She’s given the leg a mighty knock. It’s just on the inside of the leg so she’s hit herself in the race. She’s never hit herself before.

“She went a super race and straight after it she seemed fine, but the next morning there was a bit of swelling around the fetlock and by the afternoon it was worse.

“She hasn’t chipped it but there’s definitely a problem there so the Derby is out. She’ll need a month’s box rest, but on the bright side she’ll be back for the spring.

“I’m gutted for the owners. They were so excited about running her in the Derby and Sam Spratt was so keen to ride her.”

Nigelissima first emerged as a prospect for the TV3 NZ Derby on March 1 when charging home to beat Australian Derby candidate Show The World in the Listed Jester Pies Championship Stakes Prelude at Ellerslie on December 15 then fought well for fifth to Rising Romance in the Gr. 2 NZ Bloodstock Royal Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day and again made ground late when ninth to Puccini in the Gr. 2 Darci Brahma Waikato Guineas.

Nigelissima again found the line solidly last Saturday, weaving between runners to just over a length and a half from the third placegetter.

Opie Bosson will be reunited with Nigelissima’s stablemate Blizzard in the Gr. 1 TV3 NZ Derby at Ellerslie on Saturday week.

Bosson was aboard Blizzard when the son of Any Suggestion cleared maiden ranks in his first staying test over 2100 metres at Tauranga on December 13, but the horse has been ridden by Mark Du Plessis and apprentice Michael Dee in his latest three starts.

Du Plessis was aboard when he finished second to Show The World in the Gr. 2 The Sound Championship Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day and Dee was the rider when he finished sixth to Puccini in the Gr. 2 Darci Brahma Waikato Guineas and again when seventh last Saturday to the same horse in the Gr. 2 Auckland Eye Avondale Guineas.

“Mick (Dee) did a good job on him, but Opie had more experience and he’s keen to ride him,” said co-trainer Emma-Lee Browne.

“He (Blizzard) has come through last Saturday’s race really well. And we were really happy with what he did from the outside barrier draw. Apparently he ran the fastest finishing sectionals of the race.

“He’s thriving and it’s a relief after what has happened with the other one (Nigelissima).”

Browne and her training partner, father Jeff McVean, also have Sir Lancelot in the Derby, but he looks unlikely to get a start. “We’d need a miracle to get him in the Derby,” she said.

Meanwhile the stable will be focused on Rollout The Carpet when she returns to the scene of her 2012 J. Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes on Saturday to resume in the open sprint.

Rollout The Carpet hasn’t raced since finishing last in the Gr. 1 Makfi Challenge Stakes last August and recently trialled at Avondale in an open 1000-metre heat.

“It was the first time we’ve tried her right-handed since the Diamond Stakes (in which she ran out in the straight when second) and though she missed the jump it worked out well,” said Browne. “She handled it well and it was a nice outing for her.

“It gives us a few more options with her but we’re not looking past Saturday yet. She’ll be a little bit vulnerable on Saturday because she’s on the fat side but it’s a good chance to get her going.”

Rollout The Carpet will be ridden by Mark Du Plessis, who was aboard in her Gr. 1 NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas win and has been her regular rider over the last 17 months.