Tarzino Trophy on agenda for Helena Bay

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Evergreen galloper Helena Baby made it a one-act affair when winning the open handicap at Tauranga on Saturday, with the John Bell-trained eight-year-old leading his rivals a merry dance.

Ridden by in-form apprentice Kelsey Hannan, Helena Baby sat outside leader Musigny Lass throughout and skipped clear rounding the home bend to eventually run out a three and three-quarter length winner on the Heavy 10 surface.

Group One assignments now loom for the veteran, who made it back-to-back victories after landing the Listed Opunake Cup (1400m) for the second time in his career last month.

The son of won five of his first seven starts for Bell during the Winter of 2019, and after placing in the   Trophy (1400m) to close out that campaign the gelding transferred to Hong Kong where he had a further 14 starts in the ensuing two which resulted in a pair of minor placings.

Bell was delighted to see the quality galloper win on Saturday, where despite Hannan's three-kilo claim, he gave away between five and nine kilos to his rivals.

“I thought with the 62kgs he was weighted to lose,” Bell said. “We put Kelsey on through the week to get used to him, as he can be very aggressive and we don't do a lot of fast work with him. She did exactly what the plan was.

“I expected some of those horses with 50kgs on their back to beat him and would have been happy if he had placed, but class is permanent. He had it right from the start but unfortunately there was the interruption of going to Hong Kong.

“I didn't want him to go up there but he was a black-type horse before he went and the owners wanted him up there.

“It was very pleasing yesterday and he won like a good horse.”

The trainer also praised Hannan and believes the young rider has a bright future.

“To me she has a touch of about her when she started,” Bell said.

“I think the future is hers, as long as she listens to experienced people and looks to improve all of the time. She said she wants to be one of the best and you won't get an argument out of me.”

Helena Baby has relished being back in and racing on softer tracks than the regularly firm surfaces produced in Hong Kong.

“When he came back he was sound and my Grandsons (9 and 11) were able to have a sit on him but when he started tearing around the paddock we knew it was time for him to come into work,” Bell said.

“He has his habits. He has got a girlfriend, so wherever he goes, she has got to go too. He is just a very happy horse.”

The dashing grey will now be set for the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) on day one of the Hawke's Bay on September 10 followed by the Group 1 Arrowfield Stud Plate (1600m) on October 1 and the Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) on October 15.

“We will possibly have a week in the paddock, then a quiet week and then we have got two weeks to get ready for the first race at Hastings,” Bell said. At this stage, the plan is to contest all three legs (of the Hawke's Bay ) and I would really like to get him over 2000m.”

Meanwhile, Bell is buoyed by the calibre of horse in his stable.

“We have some lovely young horses coming through that we a lot of time on and once they come through some trials we are looking to have quite a nice spring and summer with them,” he said.

“We have freshened up Cleese and Peecee Pussycat is coming through, I don't know what happened to Ata Rangi (11th) yesterday. He worked brilliantly with Helena Baby last week but we will take a blood on Monday. It was disappointing because I really thought he would be right in it as well, but overall I am pleased with the young horses in the stable.”

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