Sydney-based father and sons training team Hawkes Racing have dual Group 1 representation on the Brisbane race card this weekend, but are wary of the chances of Leebaz in the Doomben Cup 2015 with Pornichet in the mix.
Co-trainer Michael Hawkes spoke to News Corp about the chances of both the co-favourite Our Boy Malachi in the $500,000 Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) and Leebaz who runs in the day’s feature race – the $650,000 Group 1 The Bundaberg Rum Doomben Cup (2000m).
A winner of 17 of his 19 starts to date, Saturday is six-year-old Our Boy Malachi’s first Group 1 assignment and Hawkes is confident he has what it takes to step up in class and handle his rivals.
When it comes to Zabeel five-year-old Leebaz in the Doomben Cup though, there is one very imposing galloper who the team is keeping a close eye on.
Gai Waterhouse’s French import Pornichet won the Group 3 Neville Sellwood Stakes (2000m) three back at Rosehill, finished fifth over an unsuitably short 1600m in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile at Randwick and then was balloted out of the Group 2 AD Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast on Anzac Day.
Waterhouse was forced then to give the galloper a lead-up Doomben Cup run last Saturday in the Toowoomba Cup (2150m) where the Vespone stallion carried the 60.5kg top weight.
The hefty increase from 51kg in the Doncaster Mile to that didn’t faze the star four-year-old however, Pornichet scoring a soft one length win over the Caloundra Cup-bound Volkhere.
He’s now on the short seven-day turnaround into the Brisbane Group 1, but the bookies are taking no chances and have Pornichet down as the $4.60 favourite in the Doomben Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au to hand Waterhouse her first win in the race since Juggler (1996) nearly 20 years ago.
“You can’t deny winners and it doesn’t matter how they do it or where they do it,” Hawkes said speaking of Pornichet.
Leebaz though is hot on the favourite’s heels in the pre-field Doomben Cup betting markets paying $5 for the upset after his Hollindale win a fortnight back.
The Group 2 Gold Coast race has produced five of the past six Doomben Cup winners, including the Guy Walter-trained mare Streama who completed the double last Queensland Winter Racing Carnival.
That imposing statistic aside, Waterhouse is confident her galloper can handle racing on successive Saturdays and believes the bookies have it right.
“Not at all and I love back-up horses,” she said.
“He did it so easily (on Saturday) that I can’t see any problem with him backing up.”
The 2015 Doomben Cup field and barriers are out on Wednesday making now the time to lock in the generous early odds on offer at Ladbrokes.com.au in their all-in markets!