Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) placegetter Helena Baby will get his shot at redemption against victor Melody Belle later this month.
Helena Baby wasn’t among the initial nominations for the Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) on September 21 as he was originally set to be flown to Hong Kong after contesting last Saturday’s Tarzino Trophy, in which he finished a game third to Melody Belle.
“He was to be vetted this morning (Monday) and go into quarantine tomorrow, but I sent an email to his owner C Y Lee last night and put forward a case for him to stay and run in the Windsor Park Plate,” trainer John Bell said.
“I needed a quick reply and he came back to me saying ‘it’s up to you John’ so he’ll now run in the Windsor Park.
“He’ll get another crack at Julius’ girlfriend, Melody Belle. She’s a magnificent mare and over the 1600m I’m hoping he can finish even closer.”
Melody Belle denied the Bell-trained Julius victory in last year’s Gr.2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa when beating him a mere nose.
While Julius has been sidelined with a tendon injury, Helena Baby has stepped up to take on Melody Belle for the Bell stable and he has acquitted himself well in his two clashes with the star mare.
He finished a half-head behind Melody Belle (fourth) in the Gr.2 Foxbridge Plate when fifth and on Saturday he was a length and a quarter from the seven-time Group One winner.
“He (Helena Baby) was originally a tough customer when we got him, but with time he’s become a professional,” Bell said.
“He’s come through Saturday’s race well and is out in a fresh grass paddock for three to five days. That should flush him up and he should be ready for the Windsor Park.”
Helena Baby is not entered for the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings on October 5 and Bell plans to get through the next race before making a final decision on the last leg of the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown.
“A Livamol start is another question to be asked, but I’m not so sure about that one,” Bell said. “The owners are up in Hong Kong and obviously they want to get him up there to race.
“They’re keen to have a crack at the Hong Kong Mile at the International meeting in December and that’s worth far more than the Livamol.”
Meanwhile, Bell reports Julius has made favourable progress since initially being retired after his third in the Gr.3 Sweynesse Stakes (1215m) at Rotorua last October.
“This morning (Monday) was the first time he has done anything since his long spell,” Bell said. “He was on the walker and ridden for the first time and was so full of himself.
“He had a lot of time on the hills during his time out and if everything goes well we could get him up again for the Concorde Handicap (Gr.3, 1200m) and Darley Plate (Gr.3, 1200m) which he won last year.”
Bell has also been biding his time with Athena Baby, Yorkshire Dales and several promising younger horses.
“Poinsettia is ready to go again and Raz, Unacceptable and Ata Rangi are others that I’m just taking my time with,” he said. “I also had some trials runners at Te Rapa that look promising, especially a Dundeel two-year-old who ran second.” - NZ Racing Desk