Peter and Dawn Williams are looking to their promising filly Helsinki to spearhead their hopes of a trip to their old stomping ground for the New Zealand Cup meeting at Riccarton in November. Helsinki, a runner-up in two of her three starts and an unlucky eighth in the Listed Karaka Million 2YO (1200m), holds a nomination for the Group 1 Barneswood Farm 48th New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) on November 14 and will be out to press her case for a trip south when she starts at Avondale next week.
“She’s a nice filly and she’s coming up really well,” Peter Williams said. “She’ll run at Avondale and if she goes well we’ll probably look at the Soliloquy Stakes (Group 3,1400m at Te Rapa on October 24). “We’ll make our minds up after that whether she’ll go down for the 1000 Guineas. I think she’s good enough. “She was unlucky not to win fresh-up. She got knocked around a bit and did well for second.”
A $525,000 purchase from Book 1 of last year’s National Yearling Sales, Helsinki is from an unraced three-quarter sister to the ill-fated sire Sacred Falls, whose highlight of his New Zealand wins before being a three time Group 1 winner from Chris Waller’s stable was victory in the 2012 Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m).
While the Williams stable hasn’t won the New Zealand 2000 Guineas, it has celebrated two winners of the New Zealand 1000 Guineas, the other Group 1 on Cup week at Riccarton. Planet Rock won in 2011 and Media Sensation two years ago and both fillies were raced by Barneswood Farm, whose colours are also worn by Helsinki. “Helsinki is a different type of horse than Media Sensation, being by Savabeel she’s a bit lighter framed,” Williams said. “But I think she’s got the same ability as her.”
Media Sensation also holds a nomination for Riccarton, being entered in the Group 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) on November 11, but she hasn’t started since finishing second at Ellerslie in March and her trainers are taking her along quietly. “She’ll probably trial in mid-October,” Williams said. “We’re not rushing her. We’ll probably get her ready for the Group 2 race at Pukekohe (Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes, 1400m on November 21). She ran second in it last year. “I’m really happy with her and I’m sure she can win a decent race again this season.”
Joining Media Sensation in the stable’s nominations for the Coupland’s Bakeries Mile are Couturiere and Jip Jip Rock. Couturiere, a Pins four-year-old raced by Sir Peter Vela, has raced just three times for two wins, the latest at Avondale in March, and she trialled at Ruakaka early this month. “She’s racing next Wednesday at Avondale and if she does win she’s a chance of getting down to Riccarton,” Williams said. “I do rate her.”
Jip Jip Rock, who races in the Barneswood Farm colours, has won two of her 14 starts and was a Listed runner-up as a three-year-old. She has been off the scene since February. “She’ll trial tomorrow (Tuesday at Te Aroha) and it’ll depend on how she comes up whether or not she gets to the Coupland’s Mile,” Williams said.
The Williams stable also has Royce Roca and Bella Button entered for the New Zealand 1000 Guineas and were pleased with the latter’s effort for third behind stablemate Power On at Ellerslie last Saturday. After an eyecatching debut third behind the highly rated The Irishman at Avondale a few weeks earlier, Bella Button ran on strongly after being slow away. “I’ve been told she ran the fastest last 600m of anything on the day,” Williams said. “She’s a really nice staying type and could be an Oaks filly later on. She’ll come into her own over Christmas with the longer races.”
Royce Roca, an El Roca filly, has also had just a couple of races and shown promise. She was sixth on debut and, like Bella Button, she was an encouraging third behind another three-year-old with a big reputation, Fashion Shoot, second-up, at Te Rapa. “She’s also a nice staying filly,” Williams said. “She’ll run at Te Rapa on Friday and could go back there for the Soliloquy Stakes if she goes well.”
The Williams team consists of mostly lightly tried young horses and there’s optimism in the camp after the efforts of the promising Power On, Bella Button and Megeve last Saturday following on from the earlier wins of Timberlake and Arrivederci and Helsinki’s fresh-up effort.
“We’ve got some nice young horses coming through,” Williams said. “Power On has still got a bit to learn, but he’s getting there. “I know he had it all his own way in front last Saturday, but he’s won two now and he just got bogged down when we took him down for the Wanganui Guineas (Listed, 1200m). “I was also really happy with Megeve’s run last Saturday. She hadn’t raced for a while and she’ll improve a lot with it.”