Dunell delivers one Helluva money spinner

By Peter Wharton

One of the most capable young pacers racing in Victoria at present is Helluva, a Mach Three gelding bred by well known Pukekoke breeder and racing photographer Trish Dunell and her son Cameron Mackie, and who has quickly won his way to the verge of cup class.

Race 8: Tabcorp Park, Saturday 8-4-2023
Helluva (5) with Trainer & Driver: John Justice
Photography: Stuart McCormick

Helluva began his racing career with Kaiapoi horseman Gavin Smith, winning once at Ashburton and placing second at Oamaru from just four attempts at two and three.

Sold by prominent bloodstock agent Peter Lagan to Melbourne businessman Mark Gurry, a client of master Victorian conditioner John Justice in December 2020, the gelding has taken his career to a new level in his adopted country.

From 28 starts he has won 10 – including three at Melton – and has been six times placed for $94,650 in stakes.

And, the best may be yet to come!

The Helluva story began when Dunell and Mackie shelled out $5,500 for the Real Desire filly Desire Mhe at the National Yearling Sale in 2010 at Auckland.

“She was from the Black Watch family and I had some success with another member of this family a few years earlier,” Trish said.

Trained originally by Todd MacFarlane and later by Gavin Smith, Desire Mhe won six races with four placings for $47,214 and took a mile record of 1:57.9 and was a mare of above average ability.

“She won a heat of the Young Guns at Auckland at her first start,” Trish said.

Retired to the stud, Desire Mhe produced Koenigsegg (by Mach Three) as her first live foal. He won four races and $29,800 and had a mark of 1:58.8.

Next was Helluva, followed by the three-year-old filly Kerikeri (by Rock N Roll Heaven) and a  two-year-old filly by Betting Line, both with Kirk Larsen at Branxholme.

Buoyed by the potential being shown by Helluva, Gurry purchased Desire Mhe through Lagan in June 2021 when in foal to Always B Miki. The resultant foal, Bob’s Sister, was broken in by Aylesbury horseman Stephen Boyd and will be trained by Regan Todd.

The mare, who is based at Laura Smith’s property at Cust in North Canterbury, is safely in foal to the cover of American Ideal.

Desire Mhe’s dam, Mhairi, was unraced but she left five winners. Besides Desire Mhe, she was also the dam of Mhai Elsu (1:57.6), Carse O Fern Tom (1:59) and Mhai Surfer Girl (1:59.5), all winners.

Mhairi was a sister to the Cambridge Futurity winner Mr Bojangles 1:56 ($134,089), being by Presidential Ball from Marysia (TT1:57.8), by In The Pocket from the good producer Aberfeldy, by Mark Lobell from Black Watch, who founded one of the most successful families in NZ and Australia today.