Team Hawkes has a string of quality horses heading towards the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, but co-trainer Wayne Hawkeshas revealed that he is most excited about the spring prospects of Leebaz.
Leebaz was sent to the spelling paddock after he made his Group 1 debut with a close second behind Streama in the Doomben Cup (2000m) in Brisbane on May 17, but has now returned to his stable to begin preparations for his spring campaign.
Hawkes told Racing Ahead this morning that the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18 and the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25 were both potential targets for Leebaz and he is excited to see what the son of Zabeel can do this preparation.
“He has done really well,” Hawkes said.
“He had that second in the Doomben Cup and he is probably my favourite horse from the point of view of exciting.
“He just keeps on getting better this bloke and he might end up in a Cox Plate or a Caulfield Cup.
“He is back in the stable and looks a treat.
“We are just going to come in and give him probably one less run than one too many and give him maybe four runs.
“Hopefully he can get into a Cox Plate, but probably a Caulfield Cup.”
Leebaz finished fifth in his racing debut at Seymour in April last year and scored his maiden race victory with an impressive performance in the Mullet Creek Plate (1500m) at Kembla Grange on May 30.
He recorded two wins from three starts during his 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign and was set for the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Leebaz scored comfortable wins in the Ezymart Handicap (1400m) at Royal Randwick on February 22 and the Pro-Ride Handicap (1600m) at Warwick Farm on March 20, but missed out on a place in the Doncaster Mile after he finished second behind Weary in the Group 3 Doncaster Prelude (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on April 5.
The talented gelding returned to winning form in the Group 3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) on May 3 and he took up the running in the Doomben Cup and battled on bravely to finish second.
Leebaz is currently available at 2014 Cox Plate odds in the betting market for the Group 1 event with Ladbrokes Australia.