Two leading lights of the turf.
Both of chestnut descent.
Both brilliant in their two and three-year old seasons however decades apart.
I refer to former great Red Anchor and current day superstar Helmet.
The similarities continue. The late great champion trainer TJ Smith prepared Red Anchor. Helmet is owned by one of the biggest racing and breeding operations in the world and resides in Peter Snowden’s stables – a leading trainer in such a short space of time.
Red Anchor had a brief yet stellar career that included the 1984 Champagne Stakes, Caulfield Guineas, Cox Plate and VRC Victoria Derby before an injury forced the colt into retirement.
Red Anchor then moved into the breeding barn where he produced several stakes winners including the 1994 Epsom Hcp winner, Navy Seal.
Helmet will enter the barriers in this weekend’s W.S. Cox Plate with a significant hoodoo hanging over his head. Of the last nine Caulfield Guineas winners to partake in Australia’s best race, all have finished out of the top three. However, the Sheikh’s colt goes in as favourite.
The stunning chestnut with the white blaze will attempt to emulate the triumphs of the Bart Cummings trained and last three year to win the race, So You Think in 2009, as well as Savabeel (2004) and the big ‘O, Octagonal (1995). Those grand gallopers are the only three-year olds to have had success in the preceding 27 years.
You may be asking where does TJ’s horse fit into this?
Red Anchor in 1984 was the last youngster to have taken out the Guineas/Cox Plate double. Furthermore, both Red Anchor and Helmet crossed the line first in the AJC Champagne Stakes in their two-year old seasons.
The hoodoo isn’t the only weight around Helmet’s neck. The colt will be meeting older horses for the first time and racing over the ten furlongs for the first time.
The other question surrounding the colt is will he stay? Sure, he has the speed as we have all seen – somewhat akin to his sire Exceed And Excel. The stamina will come from Helmet’s unraced dam, the Darley owned Accessories (GB). Ten to fifteen-furlong events are what lies in Accessories’ breeding page, including her sire Singspiel – a star in his own right over 2400 metres including group one races the Japan Cup, Woodbine Invitational and Coronation Cup.
Helmet will jump from barrier 11 on Saturday and will carry only 49.5kgs.
Snowden didn’t take Helmet to ‘Breakfast with the Best’ on Tuesday. Instead he kept the colt at his home track Flemington. The former John Hawkes foreman said, “I’m really happy that I stayed there. He did the work I wanted to do and I was very happy with his work,” then added, “He looked around Moonee Valley last Thursday and Kerrin (McEvoy) was happy with how he handled it.”