Leebaz returned to winning form with an impressive performance in the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast on April 25, but co-trainer Michael Hawkes expects the talented gelding to produce an even better performance in the 2015 Doomben Cup in Brisbane this weekend.
Leebaz made a slow start to his autumn campaign, but he returned to a semblance of his best form with a second place finish in the Group 3 JRA Plate (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 19 before he upstaged a strong field to take out the Hollindale Stakes and stamp himself as a Doomben Cup favourite.
Hawkes told Sky Racing HQ this morning that he was thrilled to see Leebaz return to his best form in the Hollindale Stakes and he is confident that the Zabeel gelding will be able to make another step in the 2015 Doomben Cup this weekend.
“He has been off the boil for 12 months, but in saying that his run the other day was very good,” Hawkes said.
“The leader Hooked dropped off and probably left him in front a touch and he wanted to run to the fence and in the start before that he got left in front and that is why we did apply the blinkers.
“They definitely did help last Saturday and he has improved.
“He worked very, very good this morning, we are very happy with him and he is going into the race as good if not better than last year.”
The 2015 Doomben Cup nominations were released last weekend and the likes of Toowoomba Cup winner Pornichet, veteran gelding I’m Imposing, talented mare Silent Achiever, triple Group 1 winner Foreteller and JRA Cup winner Gypsy Diamond all remain a chance of contesting the Group 1 event this weekend.
Hawkes admits that there will be plenty of talent in the Doomben Cup field, but he feels that the five-year-old is even better suited in the $650,000 race and can go one better than he did when second behind Streama last year.
“They are always going to be thereabouts, but our bloke last start was dominant in a good field and he is meeting most of those horses again,” Hawkes said.
“I saw Pornichet’s win at Toowoomba and you can’t deny a winner, so it is going to be a competitive race but it is a different kind of race to last start we feel as it will be a genuine 2000 metres weight-for-age event.
“He is proven at the track before, not winning but running a close second, and he just ticks every box.”
Leebaz is currently available at 2015 Doomben Cup odds of $5 with Ladbrokes and he is on the second line of betting behind Pornichet ($4.60).