Resounding pre-post favourite Leebaz has produced a strong sprint to comfortably win the featured Group 3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) this afternoon ahead of Wistful and Keep Cool.
Jumping from the gates well, the standout performer of the in-form Team Hawkes stable settled in prime position on the heels of early leaders Malavio and The Great Snowman; who set only a fair tempo over the back straight and approaching the bend.
Finding the final straight in prime position, Leebaz comfortably took up the running pace, sprinting well to finish a length in the clear.
Trainer John Hawkes was understandably pleased with the performance of the Zabeel gelding in the 2014 Hawkesbury Gold Cup, revealing a return to the spelling paddock as likely to be the next step taken, rather than a tilt at the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) during the 2014 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
“He did all he had to do; he got the job done and that’s all you have to do” Hawkes said following the race.
“He’ll most probably go to the paddock I think; we’ll see how he pulls up and the boys and I will have a talk about it.
“I think he’s a potential Group 1 horse in the spring and we’ve been really patient until now so there’s no point in changing that now.”
In-form jockey James McDonald delivered a typically strong ride on Leebaz in the 2014 Hawkesbury Gold Cup, but revealed it was not all smooth sailing throughout.
“The form was outstanding, so he was always going to be hard to beat today” McDonald said following the race.
“The race didn’t go to script, but at least we got away with the win.
“He settled OK in parts of the race; he switched off really when he found a run but as soon as he got open he started tagging a little bit, but it was probably the safest way to ride a $1.50 favourite.”
Claiming early favouritism in betting markets for success in the 2014 Doomben Cup, Leebaz will instead return to the spelling paddock ahead of a busy 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
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