The John Bell-trained Helena Baby has been the star find of winter racing in New Zealand, with Saturday’s Listed Opunake Cup (1400m) triumph his most significant to date.
The four-year-old gelded son of Guillotine romped home to an easy five and a half-length victory at Taranaki dishing out a galloping lesson to his more seasoned rivals in his first start in open company.
Helena Baby has fashioned an impressive record in his short career, having only commenced racing in March of this year.
The Hong Kong-owned galloper, whose future may yet lay in that jurisdiction, has won five of his seven starts and been runner-up on the other two occasions.
Bred by the Schick family’s Windsor Park Stud in Cambridge, studmaster Rodney Schick said he saw a number of similarities in Helena Baby and his Group Two winning sire Guillotine.
“He’s pretty exciting, he always was a nice type, and John (Bell) has done a fantastic job with him to win his last five starts,” Schick said.
“He shows a good turn of foot just like his father did and I am pretty sure he will step up to the next level.
“I know John wants to run him in the Foxbridge Plate (Gr.2, 1200m), and then possibly the Tarzino Trophy (Gr.1, 1400m), and hopefully he can get some more black-type before he goes up to Hong Kong.
“John has always thought a lot of him and has been very patient with him and it’s great to see him getting results.”
Bell bought Helena Baby out of the paddock, for Hong Kong owners C Y Lee and Tang Hoi Lun. He was the third foal from a young mare and hadn’t been through the sales ring.
The rising five-year-old is out of the Secret Savings mare Hot Stash, a winner of four races in Sydney.
Her first foal, Hover by Starcraft, was a winner of three races, and her second foal by Mastercraftsman has also won three races.
Hot Stash has a three-year-old gelding by Falkirk which is owned by Windsor Park and is in work with Fraser Auret. He has trialled twice for two wins.
Her next foal, a two-year-old by Shamexpress, is owned by Te Akau and has had one trial for a placing, and she has a Vanburgh colt who will go to the Karaka sales in January.
She is in-foal again to Shamexpress, but Schick has yet to decide who she will visit this spring especially now that she is a black-type producer.
The granddam of Helena Baby is the Zabeel mare Abeel Hostess, herself a winner of five races who placed twice at stakes level. She is a three-quarter sister to Zabarra, a winner of eight races, three of them at group three.
It’s a family that Windsor Park Stud have had a lot to do with over the years, and Schick had no hesitation buying back into it.
“I bought a mare at the Easter sales in-foal to Starcraft and unfortunately she died,” Schick said.
“But I had a return service to the stallion so I had to quickly find a mare that I could send.
“We had a fair bit to do with the family in the past, it was one of Jack Denham’s great families. Abeel Hostess was born at the farm and both her dam Fickle Mistress and her mother Vaindarra have been resident on the farm at some stage.
“The thing about most of those good families is that they usually come again, and in this case, it is through Helena Baby.” - NZTBA