EIGHT years ago, Exceed And Excel registered the 1400-metre track record at Caulfield and yesterday his son Helmet all but emulated the former sprinting star when he ran the record to just 0.2 of a second in confirming his Caulfield Guineas credentials in the group 3 Prelude.
The firm Caulfield track, which was upgraded to a good (2) after the third race, and the strong tailwind helped Helmet put up a slick time, but it was more the manner in which the dual group 1-winning juvenile crushed his rivals that confirmed to trainer Peter Snowden the $1 million Caulfield Guineas was well within his grasp.
''To me, that's only a touch of what the horse's ability actually is,'' Snowden said. ''Today is probably the first day I can say he did everything right. He bounced perfect, he travelled good off the hot speed, he relaxed good and then he quickened into his stride. He's got a magnificent stride.''
Helmet, who ran as the $2.60 favourite, clocked 1:21.40s in his 3¼-length win over Secret Hills ($18) with three lengths to the third horse Specter ($14).
Helmet has a history of doing things wrong in his races but jockey Kerrin McEvoy said the horse travelled like a winner as far out as 1000m from home.
''It was good to see him concentrate and do it properly,'' he said. ''We've always had faith in him and it was just getting a bit annoying with his antics but today was a real positive step and he's got great ability.''
Snowden said he did not have to do much work in the next two weeks on the horse's fitness. ''He's just about there,'' he said. ''I felt he was quite forward today and I didn't miss him after last start. I thought if he's going to be that smart, I'll try and be smarter and he's copped a fair bit of work in the last week in jumps.''
Snowden was reluctant to get too far ahead of himself but conceded a Cox Plate tilt could be on the cards if Helmet can win the guineas. ''It [Cox Plate] is there but he's got to be dominant or even more so next start for us to think about that because that's an absolute professional's race and at a very tricky track so he's got to prove it next start,'' he said.
A mini-plunge on the previously unbeaten gelding That's The One went astray as he was never in contention. Backed late from $7 to $5.50, That's The One struggled into sixth placing.
Peter Moody's highly consistent colt Golden Archer ($3.60) turned in the worst run of his career when he went too quickly in front before tiring badly in the run home to finish second-last. A decision will be made on whether he is spelled or freshened up for a tilt at the group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes over the shorter 1200m trip on Victoria Derby day.