Up-and-coming hoop Michael Dee has been confirmed to retain the ride on Hazzabeel, when the talented gelding takes his position in the 2016 Villiers Stakes field at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
A former Perth galloper, Hazzabeel has found excellent form since transferring to the care of Ciaron Maher this time and has so-far been partnered by Dee on two occasions; an impressive win in the Listed Kilmore Cup (1600m) on November 20th, before a close second in the Group 3 Festival Stakes (1500m) most recently on December 3rd.
Assistant trainer to Maher, David Eustace told AAP that the team is thrilled with the results posted, as well as the condition of the Zabeel gelding through his three Victorian starts and remain confident that Dee will get the best from the horse in the Villiers Stakes 2016.
“Micky Dee will ride him again and he (Hazzabeel) seems in rude health,” Maher’s assistant trainer David Eustace said.
“The extra 100 metres over the mile will suit him and fingers crossed he’ll be very competitive.
“He was finding the line really well in the Festival Stakes and the post just came too soon, really.
“We’re happy to take them on again. We’ve got a big opinion of him.
“It was really just a case of getting him sweet again. He was possibly a little bit sour when he arrived and I think the change of scenery (has helped). We take him to the beach in the mornings after work as much as we can.
“He’s a horse Ciaron likes to train pretty fresh. He doesn’t overdo it with him at home and he seems to enjoy that.”
Beginning his career under the guidance of Simon Miller before transferring to Dan Morton’s stables in 2015, Hazzabeel has posted a commendable record of seven wins and two minors, through only eighteen competitive appearances.
Unable to make anything of an impact through a three-start preparation in Perth through late autumn and winter, Hazzabeel debuted to east coast racing for ninth in the Listed MSS Security Sprint (1200m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day, in what was his only other start prior to the Kilmore Cup.
The 2016 Villiers Stakes field and barrier draw is due to be completed and released by midday, Wednesday.