IN Racing
Helena Baby makes successful jumping debut
Quality flat performer Helena Baby added a second string to an already impressive bow as he cruised to a debut victory over fences when taking out the TAJC Hospitality Hurdle (3100m) at Te Aroha on Monday with consummate ease.
Kevin Robertson, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | June 05, 2024
Helena Baby on his way to winning at Te Aroha on Monday. Photo: Kenton Wright (Race Images)

Quality flat performer Helena Baby added a second string to an already impressive bow as he cruised to a debut victory over fences when taking out the TAJC Hospitality Hurdle (3100m) at Te Aroha on Monday with consummate ease.

With racing returning to Te Aroha for the first time since January, the nine-year-old son of Guillotine put on a display befitting of the occasion as he led from barrier rise in the hands of Nick Downs.

The John Bell-trained runner hardly put a foot wrong and although chancing the third last fence, punters who installed him as the $1.60 favourite never had a moment of doubt as he strolled to the line seven lengths to the good of Call Me Jack who had chased him forlornly for the final 600m.

Bell noted he had been preparing his charge for a future jumping career for the past three years and was confident he would perform to a high level despite not having been sighted in the role on raceday.

“He got a little bit tired and put in a couple of short ones (leaps) at the end but he was good enough to get away with it,” Bell said.

“We have spent a lot of time getting him ready for this day and my only real concern was the 3100m as he has never been over that sort of distance before.

“I’ve always been told that a really good sprinter will make a good hurdler as long they can settle so Nick had to keep him under wraps to make sure he got around, and he did a great job.

“Time and patience always works and we have certainly done that with this guy, so now he has had his first taste of it I will need to talk to my jumping buddies as well as having a good chat with Nick about where they think we should be aiming him.”

Bred by Windsor Park Stud, Helena Baby made a barnstorming start to his racing career in New Zealand when he put together a five-race winning sequence during the winter of 2019, including victory in the Listed Opunake Cup (1400m) of that season.

After finishing third to champion mare Melody Belle in the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) to close out that campaign the John Bell-trained gelding transferred to Hong Kong where he had a further 14 starts which resulted in a pair of minor placings, before returning to New Zealand where he has won two further races (including a second Opunake Cup) before Monday’s hurdle victory.

His 45 career starts have now netted over $300,000 in prizemoney.