The Hawkesbury Gold Cup odds of Leebaz have shortened significantly in the last 24 hours; with the Team Hawkes-trained gelding back into a quote of $1.60 to win the Group 3 event at the standalone Hawkesbury meeting this afternoon.
Leebaz opened at Hawkesbury Gold Cup odds of $2 when the final field was released on Wednesday, but has received a mountain of support throughout the week and has been the best-backed runner on the entire Hawkesbury card.
Leebaz started his 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival campaign with comfortable wins in the Ezaymart Handicap (1400m) at Royal Randwick on February 22 and the Pro-Ride Handicap (1600m) at Warwick Farm on March 20 and finished second behind Weary in the Group 3 Doncaster Prelude (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on April 5.
Jockey James McDonald has an extremely high opinion of Leebaz and he believes that the son of Zabeel will be very tough to beat in the 2014 Hawkesbury Gold Cup.
“His last run was enormous; he was obviously beaten by Weary and he franked the form by running third in a Doncaster,” McDonald told Sky Racing HQ this morning.
“He looks a very good ride in that sort of race, he races on the speed and makes his own luck, and a mile will suit him down to the ground.”
Leebaz has been ridden on the pace in the majority of his eight race starts to date and the four-year-old is expected to take up the running in the Hawkesbury Gold Cup.
McDonald said that he sees no reason to change the racing pattern of Leebaz, but believes that the intentions of Jimmy Cassidy on Gai Waterhouse-trained The Great Snowman could dictate how the race is run.
“I expect so,” McDonald said when asked if he will take up a forward position on Leebaz.
“Obviously Gai has a runner in it, so I will be dictated by what she goes, but this horse can probably race anywhere and he will be in the first two, three or four.
“With all their runners the normal instructions are just to ride them where they are comfortable and they normally attack the line well wherever they are in the field.
“He is an on pace runner and he will be there abouts.”
McDonald has a strong book of rides at Hawkesbury this afternoon and he will partner talented filly Cosmic Endeavour in the Group 3 Darley Crown (1300m).