Cambridge trainer John Bell enjoyed a top day out at Rotorua on Monday where he produced a winning race-to-race double.
Bell took out the feature race on the programme with under-rated galloper Yorkshire Dales who triumphed over 1215m in open company.
The seven-year-old gelding was having his first run since closing up his last campaign with a tidy effort for fifth in the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
Allowed to find his feet during the early stages by rider Craig Grylls, Yorkshire Dales travelled up strongly approaching the home bend before dashing to the front shortly after straightening. Grylls kept his charge up to the mark as they lasted to score by a neck from Woodville visitor Casaquinman with race favourite Te Toro Pearl in third.
“He’s a happy horse who is going very very well and you will see a lot more of him,” Bell said.
“We’re going to look after him and pick our races one at a time. He looks like he has come through it quite well and is very fit.”
Yorkshire Dales did his early racing in England where he was successful in two of his five starts before being sold to Hong Kong where he failed to fire in his only run before being transferred to Bell’s stable where he has now won four of his 10 New Zealand starts.
One race earlier the Bell-trained Helena Baby indicated he could be in for a profitable winter when he cleared maiden ranks in effortless fashion over 1400m.
Runner-up in his first two starts, the Guillotine four-year-old never gave his race rivals a look-in as he led all the way in the hands of rider Donavan Mansour. Allowed his head with 500m to run, Helena Baby shot clear with Mansour easing him down over the final 100m to score by a conservative five lengths at the line.
Bell had earlier expressed some concerns about the Heavy10 track for his charge, but those fears proved unfounded as Helena Baby relished the underfoot conditions.
“He’s a nice horse who is going to go right through the grades,” Bell said.
Mansour echoed those sentiments as he made his way back to winner’s enclosure.
“He’s a nice horse who I think 1400m-1600m is his game,” he said.
“It’s always good when they travel like that. I galloped him on a wet track before and he loved it so I knew he would like it today.”
Bred by Windsor Park Stud, Helena Baby is a half-brother to useful performer Hover and dual Singapore winner, Muscular Captain. – NZ Racing Desk