The 2016 Stradbroke Handicap has been earmarked as the long-term goal for Hellbent after he returned to winning form with a comfortable victory in the Inglis Dash at Flemington on Saturday.
Hellbent stamped himself as a horse to watch when he recorded a dominant four lengths victory in the Ranvet Handicap (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 30, but he was unable to return to winning form in the Listed Brian Crowley Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on October 17, the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day and the Inglis Sprint (1100m) at Royal Randwick on December 12.
Despite his run of outs, Hellbent was well-backed in the lead-up to the Inglis Dash (1100m) and the result was never in doubt, as the son of I Am Invincible powered away from his rivals in the final stages to record an impressive win.
Trainer Kurt Goldman admitted after the race that Hellbent’s preparation has not entirely gone to plan, but he was still pleased to see the three-year-old return to winning form.
“It was an afterthought coming here to this race, obviously the one back at Randwick was our main target and things didn’t go to plan,” Goldman said.
“In horse racing, sometimes you’ve got to go to Plan B, Plan C or even Plan D.
“He’s definitely the best horse I’ve had the pleasure of training but until they come out and do it on race day, there’s plenty of horses that are great at track work and don’t come out and produce.
“He’s a nice progressive horse heading in the right direction.”
Goldman indicated in the lead-up to the Inglis Dash that Hellbent would press on to the Group 3 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on February 6, but he is now likely to send the three-year-old to the spelling paddock before bringing him back for a winter campaign that could include starts in the Scone Guineas, Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) and Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m).
“I did say that we’d likely go into the Eskimo Prince next start but there’s every chance he might go to the paddock and come back for the Scone Guineas, which is another Inglis race worth $400,000,” Goldman said.
“That would give us a nice lead-up into Brisbane and he might even be able to contest a Stradbroke or a BTC Cup.”
Hellbent has recorded three wins from his six race starts and accumulated over $250,000 in prizemoney for connections.