By Ray Hickson
It’s fair to say Goulburn trainer John Bateman’s consistent mare Nicconita has threatened to take home a feature race for some time and she’ll have her chance in next Sunday’s $80,000 Bega Cup (1600m) at the Sapphire Coast.
The five-year-old had a reputation as a perennial placegetter but she won her way into the SERA Country Championships qualifier with a strong win over subsequent heat winner Al Mah Haha but was scratched from the race and spelled.
With 24 starts under her belt Nicconita isn’t eligible for the Country Championships but she opened up some doors winning easily over a mile at the Sapphire Coast in December, prompting Bateman to return for their feature race.
“The Sapphire Coast I thought would suit her when I took her down last time, we were keen on her that day,’’ Bateman said.
“I always thought she’d get a mile and she won quite well. The surface down there suits her, there’s plenty of give in it without being wet and plenty of grass cover.’’
Nicconita has had two starts, a placing at Canberra and a last at Canterbury, since that Sapphire Coast win and Bateman said neither were in ideal circumstances and aren’t guides to her Bega Cup hopes.
Nicconita wins at Sapphire Coast on December 2
“I had to run her at Canterbury, to get her ready for the mile,’’ he said.
“Having the races called off and a few other different things have interrupted her progress but she’s really well now and I’d like to head down there.’’
Bateman’s Country Championships team will become clearer after next Saturday’s Rosehill meeting where he plans to run Common Purpose, Greenspan and Show Me The Honey.
Common Purpose ran sixth in the SERA Qualifier in 2019 and Bateman is keen to step him up to 1400m at Rosehill after three runs back from a spell.
“I’ve had him ready to go for a couple of 1400m races and we’ve got a wet track and a bad alley and I just haven’t had the chance to step him up,’’ he said.
“He’s been working up to 1400m or a mile.’’
Greenspan, a recent Highway winner at Randwick, and Show Me The Honey are slated to contest a 1500m Highway on Saturday and if all three horses perform well Bateman will head to Nowra for the SERA Qualifier (1400m) on February 16.
“They’ll all be in at Rosehill on Saturday so we will see how they go there,’’ he said.
“They haven’t really been targeted for it but if they are in a bit of form and are eligible you’re a bit silly if you don’t put them in and have a go.’’