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Cambridge trainer John Bell will have a strong hand when he ventures to Te Rapa on Saturday, including a pair of last start winners on the Hamilton track that are looking to replicate that feat.
Smart mare Palm Springs steps into Open company in the Group One Turf Bar Sprint (1200m) where she will again have the services of in-form apprentice Joe Kamaruddin, whose three-kilogram claim will be a big assist.
“She is bright and ready. She had a little sprint-up this morning with Joe Kamaruddin on and she is very well,” Bell said.
“She comes down to 51kgs after the claim, which is a very big positive.
“She is really strong, she is as wide across the front as she is high. She has got the power.”
The winner of four races from 10 starts with a further two placings, the daughter of Super Easy sports the colours of Sir Peter Vela, who has been a good supporter of Bell for a number of years.
“The relationship started quite a while ago and we were breaking in a lot of horses for Pencarrow and getting them ready and they were going to Australia and trainers around the country.
“Then we prepared a number for the Ready To Run Sale for Pencarrow and they bought a few back and gave us one to train and it has just continued on. It is a great relationship.
“They have a good team at Pencarrow and the contacts that I have derived from there are wonderful.”
Three-year-old gelding Peecee Pussycat will contest the Skycity Hamilton Stayers (2200m) and shapes as one of the more progressive young stayers in the country, enduring a wide run to salute at Te Rapa last start in game fashion.
“That last start, he drew wide and carried 60kgs. He was the top weight, from a wide draw and a three-year-old against older horses.
“He is a magnificent type with staying ability and only three-years-old and is the type of horse that could win a Hong Kong Derby.
“He has trained on, we haven’t had to do much with him. He is by Pure Champion and you don’t have to gallop them much, we’ve just ticked him over. He is a horse with fantastic ability, he will be there abouts on Saturday.
“He is definitely a cups horse of the future.”
While Peecee Pussycat has handled rain-affected going in recent starts, Bell believes he will be even more effective on better going.
“Jason Waddell got off him at the trials at Taupo one time and said ‘stayer, firm track’,” Bell said.
Bell was also encouraged by the last-start run of Cleese, who will represent the stable in the Dunstan Horsefeeds (2100m), with stablemate Curious George second on the ballot.
Meanwhile, Bell, who also prepares a number of horses for Asia, is also pleased with the trio of horses he secured at last year’s Ready To Run Sale, which includes a Per Incanto colt that won a trial in May, plus a $525,000 Exceed and Excel colt.
“The Per Incanto won a trial at Te Rapa quite impressively. I’d bought him at the Ready To Runs for a client and he has just been vetted and is due to go on a plane to Hong Kong shortly,” Bell said.
“We got the Exceed and Excel to go up there too. He works like a half million-dollar horse. He is pretty special.”
Bell also has plenty of time for a Capitalist colt out of Uberalles, a Group One placed daughter of Ethereal.
Between training stints, the accomplished horseman spent many hours travelling the globe selling horse feed and hasn’t missed his international forays over the past 18 months care of COVID-19.
“I couldn’t care less about getting on an aeroplane. I saw my suitcase the other day when I was clearing out the stables and went into a shiver. For 18 years when people asked me where I lived, I’d say in seat 3b on a 747,” Bell said.
“I was in Hong Kong five or six times a year then Japan, Macau, Singapore, all the middle East – Oman, Dubai, so I am quite comfortable in my cottage looking after my horses and staff.”