Jumping future for Group 1 performer

Helena Baby will make his jumping debut next week. Photo: Kenton Wright (Race Images)

A jumping future is looming for Group 1 performer Helena Baby following his 20-length victory in an Open Hurdle trial at Cambridge on Monday.

The grey nine-year-old has performed well on the flat for trainer John Bell, winning seven races, including the Listed Opunake Cup (1400m) on two occasions, and placed in the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) and Opunake Cup.

He has had three unplaced sprint outings this preparation in preparation for making his debut hurdle outing at Te Aroha next Monday, and Bell is looking forward to seeing what he can do over fences on raceday.

“Sprinters can make great hurdlers and he we have been working on him for several years (to go jumping),” Bell said.

“We have given him a few sprint races and will look to have him in the maiden hurdle at Te Aroha on Monday.

“He is a lovely horse, there is not much about him that you don’t like. He went up to Hong Kong and didn’t handle the tracks up there but came back here and performed again with a bit of rain. The more rain the better for him.

“We will get him over his first encounter. Nick Downs has done a lot of work on him. Mentally he is quite prepared for anything and we will go day-by-day with the jumping.”

Bell said a transition to jumping will help extend Helena Baby’s racing career.

“If he wasn’t doing that he would be sitting in the paddock or a clerk of the course, so we might as well endeavour for him to win us a dollar or two and help pay the bills,” he said.

Helena Baby will be joined at Te Aroha’s meeting by stablemates Ata Rangi and Curious George.

“Ata Rangi is doing well on the flat. He hurdles very well, so that is where he is destined for, but we will run him over 2200m (on Monday). Curious George will be in the 0-1 win Hurdle,” he said.

Prior to the weekend, Bell will head south to Awapuni’s synthetic meeting on Thursday where he will line-up Da Optimist in the Townshends Joinery 1000.

“We have Da Optmisit on the poly with Jonathan Riddell on,” Bell said. “He is well and should go well.”

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