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Confidence is high in camp Darley as one of their Peter Snowden-trained stars, Helmet, prepares for his highly-anticipated race return in the 2012 CS Hayes Stakes on Lightning Stakes Day at Flemington this Saturday.
The three-time Group 1 winning Exceed And Excel colt, last seen finishing a credible eighth in the Cox Plate last October, Helmet will jump as the odds-on favourite in the $150,000 CS Hayes Stakes (1410m), which will be his second last run on Aussie soil.
Helmet is bound for overseas glory starting with the UAE Derby (1900m) on Dubai World Cup Night at Meydan on March 31 and then in Europe for new connections Godolphin.
His swansong race down under is scheduled as the $750,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 3 for which he is the clear-cut favourite for in the early Luxbet markets at a quote of $2.50.
He is even shorter to win his resuming run on Saturday paying $1.70 in the CS Hayes Stakes odds at Luxbet.
Drawn nicely in gate four with Kerrin McEvoy to ride, Helmet has been working impressively ahead of his first-up run and Peter Snowden’s stable foreman, son Paul Snowden, is confident he will be forward enough to win over the 1400-metres.
“Helmet’s probably more forward than he ever has been in his life and he needs to be as he’s going 1400, 1600 to 1900 metres so there’s no time to be mucking about with him,” Snowden said.
“He’s ready to run, that’s for sure.”
Trainer Peter Snowden agrees with his son’s assessment and said that they had been very mindful of all future targets when getting Helmet ready for this prep.
“He’s appeared as if he’s come back well,” Snowden Snr. said.
“I’ve been happy with his work the whole way through and his two trials have been solid.
“He’s not as heavy as what he was when he kicked off last prep.
“He needs to be that bit lighter because the program he needs to go to the Australian Guineas, a mile, second-up, then he has to go to Dubai and it’s 1900-metres there.
“I have been really conscious that his preparation is short but it needs to get that bit of length into his work and with that in mind I’m really happy with where he’s at the moment.
“He’ll be competitive Saturday.”
One person who believes Helmet may be a little vulnerable in the CS Hayes and will have improvement in him with the Guineas and Dubai on the horizon is ace hoop Glen Boss.
Boss is preparing to ride Danny O’Brien’s promising Encosta De Lago colt Decircles and believes that the $8.50 Luxbet chance will be competitive from barrier seven.
“He’s up against the mighty Helmet but he’s (Helmet’s) vulnerable first-up,” Boss said.
“I saw him first-up last preparation and he was huge and he was very vulnerable, so if you say Hlmet is vulnerable this is a winnable race.
“He (Decircles) should be ready to show his absolute best.
“The horse is in great shape.
“He’s a top-line horse but I think he’s still finding his way.
“Not much has gone right for him at this stage but I think barrier seven is a good draw for him.
“He has good tactical speed.
“I’ll be able to put him up in the race and keep him out of trouble and if I can do that I’m sure seven furlongs around Flemington is going to be very good for this horse.”
The lightly-raced Decircles races last Saturday finishing fifth to Eagle Falls in the Group 3 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) with Craig Williams aboard, and Boss hopes he can get more out of the galloper when he takes the mount on him for the first time.
“He looks like he’s come through that run really well,” Boss said.
“Obviously he didn’t’ have a gut-busting run last start when things didn’t go right and he got jammed up which he didn’t appreciate.
“But his last sectional was the best for the day so you can take a positive out of it.”
Decircles is also heading towards the 2012 Australian Guineas, but is $26 outsider in the Luxbet futures.
Along with Helmet ($1.70) and Decirlces ($8.50) the other horses in the top half of the CS Hayes Stakes field and odds are the Peter Moody-trained Manfred Stakes runner-up That’s The One ($6 Luxbet) and third placegetter Highly Recommended ($12 Luxbet), Mick Price’s Zeditave Stakes winner Instinction ($9.50 Luxbet) and up-and-comer Taxi Driver ($21 Luxbet).
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