Darley’s domination of the feature juvenile races continued on Saturday when Helmet overcame an interrupted preparation to win the Group One Sires’ Produce Stakes at Randwick.
The colt’s half-length win over Uate in the second leg of the Sydney two-year-old triple crown over 1400 metres came just seven days after the racing and breeding operation claimed the $3.5 million Golden Slipper with star two-year-old Sepoy.
Darley’s head trainer Peter Snowden elected to miss the Golden Slipper with Helmet because too much had gone wrong in his preparation.
Helmet ($4.60) was scratched from the Sires’ Produce Stakes in Melbourne last month when he played up in the gates and then the colt did likewise in a barrier trial in Sydney a couple of weeks later.
That was all forgotten as the son of Exceed And Excel sat outside the previously unbeaten Uate ($14) and battled it out in the straight to score the Group One win.
The Patinack Farm-owned filly Pane In The Glass ($17) hit the line strongly on the outside from back in the field to grab third.
“That’s a huge effort, he’s had a real stop-start preparation,” Snowden said of Helmet.
“I was confident he would win the Sires in Melbourne but that got mucked up and he came back and had to trial and that got mucked up as well.
“He then trialled well but we decided not to go to the Golden Slipper because of what had happened, and it was the right call because it gave the horse a chance to clear his head and gave me the chance to have the horse better for today.”
Sepoy claimed the Group One Blue Diamond-Golden Slipper double and as long as Helmet pulls up well from the Sires, Snowden said he would be given his chance to add the Group One Champagne Stakes (1600m) to his tally in two weeks time.
The win was jockey Kerrin McEvoy’s third Group One win in two-year-old features this year having also ridden Sepoy.
Uate has continued to surprise his trainer Kris Lees, having come from a maiden win at Newcastle in February to finishing a close second in a Group One three starts later.
“He’s come from a Newcastle maiden win where we went in with no great confidence and he just keeps upping the ante,” Lees said.
“We’ll see about the Champagne because he’s had a long preparation, but it would be tempting.”