Leebaz almost missed out on a run in the 2015 Hollindale Stakes, but the talented gelding made the most of his late call-up to the race to record an impressive victory in the Group 2 event.
Leebaz jumped from the gates strongly and jockey Jim Byrne elected to settle the Zabeel gelding just behind Hooked in the early stages of the race, while Rudy was settled just behind the leading duo in third.
Hooked was one of the first horses beaten when the field entered the straight, but Leebaz responded well when asked for an extra effort and he held-off a fast-finishing Sir Moments and a gallant I’m Imposing to take out the 2015 Hollindale Stakes.
Co-trainer Michael Hawkes was clearly delighted that Leebaz was able to return to winning form in the Hollindale Stakes, after he was initially named first emergency, and he confirmed that the five-year-old will head to the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) on May 9 – a race that he finished second in behind Streama last year.
“He was probably a bit underrated today,” Hawkes said.
“His run in the Doncaster was very good, he missed the start and had to make up a lot of ground and we decided to come up here.
“At the 11th hour we were sweating on a run being first emergency, but the rest is history because he has got the job done with his blinkers on.
“We are targeting the Doomben Cup again – he was unlucky last year and the good mare Streama beat him.
“The older he is, the better he is and the blinkers really switched him on today.”
Team Hawkes instructed Byrne to settle Leebaz as close to the speed as possible in the early stages of the race and Hawkes was quick to pay credit to the veteran hoops ride.
Byrne said that luck in running had cruelled Leebaz during his autumn campaign to date and, like Hawkes, he believes that the application of blinkers helped the five-year-old keep his mind on the job in the Hollindale Stakes.
“The thing with him is that he has just been a little bit unlucky,” Byrne said.
“Obviously with the blinkers on it helped him and it was a really good effort.”
Sir Moments and I’m Imposing both produced impressive trials heading towards the Doomben Cup, but the likes of Arabian Gold, Silent Achiever and Moriarty were never able to get into the race.