Racing Manners Crucial To Helios Express’ Hong Kong Classic Cup Aspirations

Hugh Bowman says racing manners are pivotal to Helios Express’ hopes of clinching the HK$13 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (3 March) as John Size’s charge bids to enhance an imposing record.

The winner of five of seven Hong Kong starts, including the HK$13 million Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) last month, Helios Express steps beyond 1600m for the first time in his career and, while Bowman is supremely confident of success this Sunday, he has one caveat.

“He (Helios Express) has got that beautiful tactical speed, but it’s just important that he really does relax. I would like to see him relax a little better than he did in the mile to the 1800m and looking forward to a (BMW Hong Kong) Derby (2000m) as well,” Bowman said.

“Although there’s no question he’s the best horse in the race, and he’s got the class advantage, it is still important that he does things right and switches off and, if he does that, he’ll be too good for them.

“But if he doesn’t do it (relaxes) and wastes energy in the run and over-races, which is a possibility, then he’s going to find it tougher as he gets over longer trips.”

Drawn barrier two, Helios Express faces 13 rivals – Helene Feeling, Chill Chibi, Ensued, Beauty Crescent, Speed Dragon, Unbelievable, Chancheng Glory, Awesome Fluke, Elliptical, Ka Ying Generation, Fallon, Simply Maverick and Star Mac.

Rated 102, Helios Express raced once in Australia, winning an 1106m maiden in 2022 at Benalla for Jamie Edwards when known as Tex Mex. Since transferring to Size’s stable, he has earned HK$15.7 million with three wins over 1200m and two victories at 1600m.

“He’s just a competitive horse,” Bowman said of the Toronado gelding. “Although we are looking to stretch him out over these longer distances, it’s not a bad attribute to have – the competitiveness – and that comes to the fore at the business end when you really need him to knuckle down and do his job. He’s doing it in spades.

“It’s just about getting him into a nice smooth rhythm, as he did in the (Hong Kong Classic) mile and looking for a bit of room when we need it. He’s got the turn of foot to capitalise on the space that comes available.

“He’s had a really good grounding – the form is on the board, you can’t deny it, and he’s got the class and he’s got the ideal draw as well. So, there’s a lot in his favour.”

Karis Teetan will search for his first Hong Kong Classic Cup success since teaming with Size and Thunder Fantasy in 2015 when the Mauritian partners Star Mac from barrier eight for David Hayes.

“It was a really good run (when third) in the Classic Mile last time. I thought pretty highly about this horse even though he was going into the race with that rating (64),” Teetan said. “It was always going to be difficult, but he proved that he was good enough to be there and he’s improved a lot since then. I’m looking forward to the 1800m.

“David has decided to put the blinkers on and I think it’s going to make a big difference. He’ll be able to focus a bit more and concentrate in the race. He finished pretty strong last time and, on that run, going 1800m is what he’s looking for.”

Teetan also rides Pierre Ng-trained Galaxy Patch in the Class 2 Rutland Handicap (1000m), hopeful the talented four-year-old can race more tractably after a last-start second to Howdeepisyourlove over 1200m at Sha Tin on 12 February.

“This (over-racing) is what stopped him from going to the Classic Mile, just over-doing it. He still needs to learn how to settle down and we don’t think he was ready to go for anything over 1200 metres a few months ago. I just hope this run settles him down because he goes 1400 next,” Teetan said.

“I think he’s gonna improve and we’ll definitely see the best out of him next season. He’s going to learn a lot from this season and he’ll be a better horse next season.”

Sunday’s (3 March) 10-race card starts with the Class 5 Cumberland Handicap (1650m, dirt) at 1pm (AEDT 16:00).

– News from Hong Kong Jockey Club

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