John Bell enjoyed a golden run with Helena Baby a few years ago before his exit to Hong Kong and has been pleased to welcome him back to his barn this year.
The grey son of Guillotine won five of his nine starts in his initial stint with Bell, including victory in the Listed Opunake Cup (1400m) and a placing in the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) behind star mare Melody Belle.
He then went on to race in Hong Kong, where he placed twice in 14 outings and returned to Bell’s care earlier this year.
Bell said Helena Baby didn’t handle the Hong Kong conditions and he has been pleased with the way the seven-year-old has settled back into his old surroundings, posting two placings from three starts this time in.
“He went to Hong Kong and it didn’t suit him at all, the tracks are rather hard there, but he ran a couple of nice races,” Bell said.
“He is back into the rhythm of things and nothing worries him whatsoever.”
Helena Baby will head to Te Rapa on Saturday to contest the Group One Turf Bar Sprint (1200m) but Bell said his major target is the Opunake Cup.
“He is giving most of them a lot of weight (on Saturday),” Bell said. “We are more concentrating on trying to win the Cup race down in Taranaki (Opunake Cup), which he won before he went to Hong Kong.”
If he were to perform well in the Opunake Cup, Bell is considering a return to Hastings to tackle the first leg of the Hawke’s Bay triple crown.
A stablemate that could join Helena Baby on his interregional trips is last start winner Cleese, who will line-up in the Mark Sanders Memorial (2100m) at Te Rapa on Saturday.
“It is race four and depending on what happens there, whether he goes to the front or comes from behind. He is nicely weighted and we will see what happens there,” Bell said.
“He is another one that I want to head to Taranaki with as well.”
Bell is also looking forward to lining up Hot Salsa in the J F Grylls Memorial Classic (1500m). He has finished runner-up in two of his last three starts and Bell is hoping the son of Tavistock can go one better this weekend.
“He is a very immature horse and has taken plenty of time. His owners have been very patient with him,” Bell said.
“He is a horse for the future – he is a classy animal.
“I don’t know if he likes the ground too wet, but he has a lot of ability.”
Bell will also line-up Ata Rangi and Peecee Pussycat in the John Young Family 2200.
“Ata Rangi is a horse that hasn’t had a lot of luck but has been working very well,” Bell said.
“Peecee Pussycat is a Pure Champion horse, he is a gorgeous looking animal. The last time he started at Te Rapa he got best type of horse.
“He is an out and out stayer. He is very immature as well and is a horse for the future.”