John Bell enjoyed a golden run with Helena Baby a few years ago before his exit to Hong Kong, but now he's back in 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 Ōpunake Cup (1400m) and a placing in the Group 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 tomorrow to contest the Group 1 Sprint (1200m) but Bell said his major target is the Ōpunake 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 [Ōpunake Cup], which he won before he went to Hong Kong."
If he were to perform well in the Ōpunake 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 tomorrow.
"It is race four and [what happens earlier will decide] 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 2200m race three.
"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.
"He is an out and out stayer. He is very immature as well and is a horse for the future."
- NZ Racing Desk