There is no place like home.
That’s Justine Erkelens’ sentiment of her classy mare Friar Fox.
The Blackfriars four-year-old is back with Erkelens after a stint in Melbourne under the guidance of Darren Weir.
Friar Fox was sent to the east after an excellent three-year-old season that included victory in the Listed Natasha Stakes (2200m).
She also ran second in the Listed Ascot 1000 Guineas (1800m), charging home late behind Like A Butterfly, beaten just over a length.
Friar Fox, a $14,000, yearling, raced with mixed success in Melbourne, placing just once from four starts at Caulfield, Moonee Valley and Sandown.
Her best result a runner-up finish to Snipfit over 2040m at Moonee Valley last November when ridden by Damian Lane.
Saturday’s Weddings At Ascot Handicap (1600m) at Belmont, her debut appearance at Perth’s winter headquarters, will be Friar Fox’s first run back in 199 days.
She looks on track for her return after a solid warm up trial on May 20 at Lark Hill when she worked to the line strongly for an impressive 1450m victory.
Erkelens she is delighted to have Friar Fox back in her stable.
“She is terrific,” Erkelens said on Tabradio.
“It took her a long time to spell and get over it, but she is definitely back to herself these days.
“I visited when she was over there (Melbourne) and I don’t think the environment suited her.
“When she came home it took her a while to settle down, we gave her three months to get over it.
“I couldn’t be happier with her now, she has grown, but hasn’t changed her demeanour.”
Shaun O’Donnell will reunite with Friar Fox. The combination will jump from barrier two.
In an open race with many chances Friar Fox is the TAB’s $5.50 second favourite behind Mystery Miss ($3.10).
Friar Fox defeated Music Art in her trial who ran a nice second to Skinnen Tins over at Northam on Monday.
Erkelens believes Friar Fox is primed to run a forward race first-up over the mile.
“She has always been dour and I think it might be too quick over a 1400 metre,” Erkelens said.
“I think it (1600m) will suit her really well.
“She likes a little bit of wet in the track and the longer straight will suit her.”
Erkelens will also oversee Vital Blast in race five and Yeah Dardy, who she is confident will run a good race in the last on the programme.
She rates Yeah Dardy as an excellent each way chance.