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Image: Steve Hart
The Chris Waller-trained Signora Nera has scored an emotional win at Kembla Grange

Of all the races Chris Waller will win this season, few will give him more satisfaction than claiming the one dedicated to the late Nini Vascotto.

Waller was moved to tears as he remembered the former Australian Turf Club employee and Winx’s No. 1 fan, who lost her long battle with cancer on Friday, aged 44.

Jockeys wore black armbands in the third race at Kembla Grange on Saturday in memory of Vascotto and fittingly, Waller captured it with his promising mare Signora Nera.

Vascotto developed a close friendship with Winx’s connections, including the champion mare’s part-owner Debbie Kepitis.

“It’s a touching race to win with the tribute to Nini. She was a very special lady,” Waller said.

“Debbie Kepitis said she’d been in contact with her right up until the last few days, sending her photos and keeping her up to date.

“Along with Winx, she just loved all horses.

“I’d say she’d have a team of about 1000 waiting for her, all of the horse she said she’d like to look after at the end of their careers.

“She was just a beautiful person.”

Signora Nera ($10) was making her seasonal return in the Peltzer Special Achievement Handicap (1500m) after showing staying promise in the autumn when sixth in the Australian Oaks and third behind Duais in the Queensland classic.

She made an impressive return on Saturday, powering to the line to score by 3-1/4 lengths over Centimental ($6.50) and Steel Diamond ($4 fav) to lead in a Waller trifecta.

“She’s obviously returned a pretty handy horse,” Waller said.

“She was a good horse in the Oaks in both Sydney and Queensland last preparation. Some take the next step, some plateau out and she has certainly gone to a new level.”

Waller brought up an early double a race later when former New Zealander Our Intrigue arrived just in time to nail Off Shaw in the NSWROA Trophy (2000m).

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