The Ciaron Maher trained Hazzabeel has remained solid in the betting for the Group 2 $250,000 Inglis Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Hazzabeel is the second pick in the market order at Ladbrokes.com.au at $8.50 behind the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained Fabrizio who heads the betting at $3.20 while High Midnight from the James Cummings stable is the only other runner under $10 at $9.
Maher had planned to take the former West Australian trained Hazzabeel back to his home State to run in the Group 1 $1m Peters Investments-Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot on December 3 after the six year old returned to winning form in the Listed $130,000 Kilmore Cup (1600m) at Kilmore on November 20.
But his scheduled flight was cancelled so Maher reverted to plan B and headed to Sydney for the Festival Stakes as lead up to the Group 2 $250,000 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on December 17.
The Zabeel six year old finished a handy second to the Tulloch Lodge trained Sweet Redemption in the Group 3 $150,000 The Steel Builders Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on December 3 and Maher is happy with the gelding heading into the Villiers Stakes.
“He’s really turned the corner and is in great order since coming to the stable,’’ Maher told The Daily Telegraph.
“He went through our Warrnambool yard, he does beach work down at Mordialloc and he’s just a happy horse.’’
“He was great down the straight first-up, the win at Kilmore was super and he backed it up at Rosehill.’’
“He’s an older horse, we keep mixing it up with him and that keeps him interested. He couldn’t be racing any better.’’
Hazzabeel has drawn barrier six in the Villiers Stakes field that has been reduced to sixteen runners following the early scratchings of Kenjorwood and Loyalty Man and will be ridden again by apprentice Michael Dee who has been aboard him at his last starts.
This time last year saw Hazzabeel earn a start in the Group 1 $1m James Boag’s Premium-Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot after winning the Group 3 $150,000 David Grays Aglink-R.J. Peters Stakes (1500m) at Ascot.
Hazzabeel was sent out as one of the favourites for the Railway Stakes at $7.50 and finished a respectable fifth, two and three quarter lengths from the winner Good Project.
The Zabeel gelding was then sent around in the Kingston Town Classic and after leading faded to finish well back in fifteenth position behind Perfect Refection
“This time last year, he was very good in the Railway Stakes,” Maher said.
“He’s been out of form since, but obviously bounced back in the Kilmore Cup.”
Villiers Stakes favourite Fabrizio is coming off a short freshen up after scoring a decisive win in the Listed $150,000 James Boag’s Premium Stakes (1800m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day which followed an all the way win in a BenchMark 90 Handicap over the same course and distance as the Villiers Stakes on October 15.
Fabrizio has drawn barrier eleven with Tim Clark taking over from Luke Nolen.