The Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained improver Leebaz gets their shot at a maiden Black-Type win when they line up in Saturday’s Hawkesbury Cup 2014 in country New South Wales.
Zabeel four-year-old Leebaz has had just the eight starts to date and will make it nine when they take on a credible field of 10 rivals accepted for this year’s $150,000 Group 3 Panthers Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m).
They get in on the 54kg minimum along with all but two of the other runners, which is the lightest weight they’ve had on their back since a two length win at Randwick’s Kensington track over 1550m back in October last year.
A five time winner already, Leebaz went back-to-back at Randwick and then Warwick Farm over 1400m and then the mile respectively this autumn before stepping up in class last time out.
That run came at Rosehill on Slipper Day, April 5, and while they were no match for the winner and subsequent Doncaster Mile third placed Weary on the day their second in the Group 3 Doncaster Prelude (1500m) in the mud was still a cracker.
In the Hawkesbury Cup they jump from barrier nine with young, multiple Group 1 winning hoop James McDonald staying on for their third consecutive ride on the promising stayer who could make a nice winter type in Brisbane this season.
Heading the Hawkesbury Gold Cup field and weights with 59kg is then the Tony McEvoy-trained Mouro.
The Grand Slam stallion failed in the Doncaster Mile, run on a Heavy (9) on April 12, last start when beating home just two other runners.
Their run before that was also below par when seventh to Messene in the Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill.
However their Melbourne form previous was much better with three wins on the trot including a Flemington Group 3 over 1400m first-up on March 1.
Following Mouro (56kg) is then the Steve Englebrecht-trained Malavio who is the only other runner above the minimum.
Also a Doncaster Mile graduate having run eighth on the back of an Ajax third and Doncaster Prelude fourth this Snitzel gelding has the outside barrier to overcome with Brenton Avdulla returning for duties.
The only last start winner in the Hawkesbury Gold Cup this year meanwhile is the Guy Walter-trained Flying Bay.
A five-year-old daughter of Snitzel, Flying Bay has been in top form of late including her recent 1400m win at Kensington from April 16.
Other notable hopes then include the Peter Moody-trained Kiwi import Full Of Spirit and Peter Snowden’s Tiger Hill mare Wistful with the rails run from barrier one.
Wistful is on a short back-up here having caught the eye and improved on some disappointing recent form last Friday when second behind Destiny’s Child in a Benchmark 95 over the Warwick Farm mile.
The full Hawkesbury Gold Cup 2014 field, barriers, jockeys and weights are listed below.
Hawkesbury Gold Cup betting is set to open at Ladbrokes.com.au shortly, and with Ladbrokes.com.au offering Best Tote or SP on the race, you’ll want to have an account with them before the weekend!
2014 Hawkesbury Gold Cup Final Field & Barrier Draw
Hawkesbury Race 6 – 3:20pm (AEST) – 03/05/2014
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||2x2011x170||MOURO (USA)||Tony McEvoy||Tim Clark||2||59kg||107|
|2||65640×5348||MALAVIO||Steve Englebrecht||Brenton Avdulla||11||56kg||101|
|3||260x2825x9||FULL OF SPIRIT||Peter G Moody||Ms Linda Meech||6||54kg||100|
|4||51x112x112||LEEBAZ (NZ)||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||James McDonald||9||54kg||97|
|5||30072038×0||KEEP COOL (NZ)||Joseph Pride||Christian Reith||5||54kg||90|
|7||1120134×96||THE GREAT SNOWMAN (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Jim Cassidy||8||54kg||88|
|8||740x00063x||COURT CONNECTION||Kurt Goldman||TBA||4||54kg||86|
|9||x83331x421||FLYING BAY||Guy Walter||Glyn Schofield||10||54kg||85|
|10||x518614x47||IGGI POP (NZ)||John Sargent||Jason Collett||3||54kg||83|
|11||x15673x420||STAR WARS (NZ)||Scott Aspery||Ms Kathy O’Hara||7||54kg||62|