This weekend the big one in Sydney is the 2014 Hawkesbury Gold Cup, tips and betting selections on the provincial cup clash listed below.
Originally 11 gallopers were accepted for this year’s $150,000 Group 3 Panthers Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m), a number down to 10 following Scott Aspery’s early withdrawal of Star Wars.
Heading the latest Hawkesbury Gold Cup odds then at $1.75 and firming is market shortie Leebaz.
They’re odds-on and the punters keep coming for the Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained Zabeel gelding who is bred for these mile and over feature races.
A winner of five of their eight career runs so far, Leebaz took out back-to-back runs over 1400m and then 1600m earlier this prep before stepping up to stakes company for the Group 3 Doncaster Prelude (1500m) on April 5.
There they caught the eye with a very good second behind Weary who backed up to run third in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) trumping the form of the Prelude.
Now it’s Leebaz’s turn when they run with a month between starts on a firming track for the Hawkesbury Gold Cup.
The only other gallopers rated any kind of chance against the odds-on favourite are then the rails-drawn Tiger Hill mare Wistful ($6) for Peter Snowden and the Steve Englebrecht-trained son of Snitzel Malavio ($6.50).
So should you lock these three into your Hawkesbury Gold Cup trifecta tips?
Or should you be looking somewhere else for an upset from the likes of multiple Group 3 winner Mouro ($10) or Guy Walter’s Snitzel mare Flying Bay ($13) coming off a Kensington win?
#4 Leebaz ($1.75)
They’re odds-on for a reason and we’re not brave enough to back against this in-form Hawkes-trained improver. James McDonald, who scored a Group 1 Sydney double a couple of weeks ago, rides the flying four-year-old for the third time. Knows how to win, has a super record to date and a top lead-up and the Doncaster Prelude form is holding. Mile also suits and the class isn’t all that tough this year.
Outside barrier but it’s a small field and time to overcome going over 1600m, was far from disgraced when fourth in the Doncaster Prelude and think that will be the form line to follow in the Hawkesbury Cup this year. Before that run third in the Ajax Stakes (where Weary ran second) and their eighth in the Doncaster in a Group 1 field run in the mud was credible.
#10 Iggi Pop ($31)
Roughie chance in the field but think John Sargent’s Savabeel gelding is way over the odds and capable of surprising a few with a top three run here. The five-year-old hasn’t won a race since July last year over the 2400m, but two back caught our eye with a Warwick Farm mile run finishing fourth. Kensington run last time out when seventh of eight but was a blanket finishes with excuses and dropping from 1800m there to the mile again on a track with the give out of it is going to suit better as they found it too firm then is our guess.
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*All odds quoted are Fixed Win from Ladbrokes.com.au and subject to change