Leebaz joined Shogun Lodge and Rough Habit as the only horses to win the Hollindale Stakes in back-to-back years with a strong performance in the 2016 edition of the race.
Leebaz recorded an impressive victory in the Hollindale Stakes last year, but he was friendless in the lead-up to this year’s race and he started the race at a quote of $34.
Jockey Michael Cahill elected to take a sit on Leebaz in the early stages of the race and it proved to be a masterstroke as there was plenty of pressure on, which was multiplied when Honey Toast made a move from the back of the field.
The run opened up perfectly for Leebaz at the top of the straight and he showed good acceleration to kick clear of the rest field before he held-off Hauraki and Volkstok’n’barrell to take out the Hollindale Stakes.
Team Hawkes have had a huge week since the victory of Chautauqua in the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) at Sha Tin in Hong Kong last Saturday and co-trainer Wayne Hawkes was clearly thrilled to record another feature race win with Leebaz in the Hollindale Stakes.
“It has been an unbelievable week and a half,” Hawkes said.
“We won a two-year-old race a week and a half ago and then we backed-up at Hawkesbury and we have been bang, bang, bang since then.
“I am going to keep wearing this shirt and tie – I rode this to Sha Tin.
“They went lickity split and he doesn’t have to lead this bloke.
“I was a little bit worried early when he was third and they were in a little bit of a scrimmage early, but then he settled really good behind Strawberry Boy and the other horse whipped around and put on all the pressure.
“The split came and normally he just grinds, but he sprinted really well today the old boy.
“If you take out the Queen Elizabeth run last start, where he just got hammered in front, he ran the Easter Cup at Caulfield.”
Leebaz failed to fire in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) last year following his Hollindale Stakes win, but Hawkes said that the veteran gelding will press on to the Group 1 race for the third year in a row – even though he wishes that it was run at the Gold Coast.
“He is here and he is hard and he is fit,” Hawkes said.
“He is an old gelding, he is going super and he is in unbelievable form again.
“It has been a great effort.”
Hauraki once again showed that he lacks the will to win, while Volkstok’n’barrell produced an excellent trial for the Doomben Cup.