(By John Jenkins)
Helena Baby, the latest winter star on the New Zealand racing scene, is expected to have just one more race in this country before continuing his career in Hong Kong.
The Guillotine four-year-old completed four straight wins when taking out a $30,000 Rating 82 race over 1400m at Te Rapa on Saturday and has not finished further back than second from six starts.
“This is a group one horse, I have no doubts about that,” says his Cambridge trainer John Bell. “But we won’t get to see that here.”
“He’ll go to the Opunake Cup now but then he has to go to Hong Kong unfortunately.
“His owner wants him up there to replace another horse and, while I would love to keep him here, it is hard to argue with his logic.”
The Listed $65,000 Opunake Cup (1400m) is run at New Plymouth on July 20 and is a handicap event so Helena Baby should get into that race on a reasonably light weight.
Helena Baby was bought out of the paddock from Windsor Park Stud and is owned by two Hong Kong-based men, C Y Lee and Tang Hoi Lun. He only started racing, as a four-year-old, in March this year.
“He’s needed time and if you give them time they will reward you,” Bell added.
After recording consecutive second placings over 1200m at Matamata in his first two starts he broke through for a maiden victory over 1400m at Rotorua in April. He then won again over 1400m at Rotorua in May before taking out a Rating 72 race over 1400m at Ellerslie last month.
The grey was sent out a raging hot favourite for Saturday’s race and gave his supporters very little reason for concern in the running. Jockey Donavan Mansour jumped the him out well from the barrier and soon had him up outside the leader Grand Rio.
Mansour gave his mount a bit more rein rounding the home bend and he surged ahead of the opposition before extending further in the final stages to win by a length.
Helena Baby is out of the Australian-bred mare Hot Stash and is a half-brother to Hot Off The Press, a two-year-old by Shamexpress that was purchased by Te Akau principal David Ellis for $185,000 at last year’s Ready To Run Two-year-old sale.
Hot Off The Press, who is trained by Jamie Richards, has yet to make his race debut but finished third in an 800m Matamata trial in March.