Brilliant Helene Star makes it four victories on the trot
PATRICK Biancone completed his second four-timer of the season when Helene Star routed the opposition in the sixth race at Sha Tin yesterday.
The rapidly-improving four-year-old had a cosy three-quarters of a length to spare over Red Ruffian as he emulated his stablemate Swept Away in winning four in succession.
The full extent of this training achievement is hard to appreciate in weight-driven racing Hongkong style where the handicapper's vice-like grip is so often extended after just one or maybe two victories, let alone three.
Helene Star will now have one more race before the $3.5 million International Bowl on April 18. The way he is progressing, he is sure to pose a very serious threat not only to Concert King but also to his overseas opposition.
Indeed, in Helene Star, Concert King and Quicken Away in the Bowl and Sound Print and River Verdon in the $4.5 million International Cup, Hongkong has a very strong hand to play against its European, American and Australasian rivals.
Prospective Derby contenders can count their blessings that Helene Star is not having a crack at the Blue Riband event on March 7 prior to the International Bowl.
At least one much respected local trainer is of the firm opinion that Helene Star would have a fine chance of beating his stablemate Charming Talker as well as the likes of the classy Deerfield and Right Way.
Helene Star, a son of Vice Regal, certainly has the pedigree to run out the 1,800-metre trip and if anyone can get a horse to stay, it is the master French trainer.
But Biancone countered after racing: ''I ran Helene Star this afternoon to see if he was capable of running well in the International Bowl. If he hadn't won and won well then I would have revised my plans and aimed him at the Derby instead.
''Now he has shown me, and everyone else, that he is up to running very well against overseas opposition. He definitely goes for the Bowl and not the Derby.
''He is consistent, he is very quick and he can handle the step up to 1,400 metres no problem at all.
''Today he was going so fast that Gerald (Mosse) couldn't hold him any longer at the 600-metre marker and had to let him go. Nothing could go with him off the bend - just like how he won at Happy Valley - and he's come home how he pleased.
''Gerald says there was another gear there which he didn't have to touch and there is no reason he shouldn't continue to improve.'' The Tony Cruz-ridden Carry On Winning disputed favouritism with Helene Star but could only stay on into fourth.
Cruz reported no excuses but had some interesting observations on the relative merits of Helene Star and Concert King.
''The extra 200 metres of the Bowl can make a world of difference,'' he reasoned.
''Helene Star has to be the best 1,200-metre horse we have in training here on this performance but I would still say that Concert King is the best over 1,400 metres.'' Mosse went on to complete a double when rallying Peter Tse Yan-sid's Most Delighted to victory in the seventh from resolute stayer Thor Win.
The visor for the first time made all the difference to Most Delighted who has always hinted at ability in the mornings. He was only starting for the fifth time in his life and, now that he has learned what racing is all about, is likely to progress further.
He is by English 2,000 Guineas winner Don't Forget Me, who was a very tough and genuine performer if lacking a little of the brilliance of other Classic heroes.