Golden Slipper winning jockey James McDonald has vowed to make amends on Leebaz in the Group 3 $150,000 Panthers Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) at Hawkesbury on Saturday.
McDonald blames himself for Leebaz’s first defeat this preparation and admits that he went too soon when they were run down by the Chris Waller trained Weary in the Group 3 $150,000 Doncaster Prelude (1500m) at Rosehill on April 5.
“It is good to get the opportunity to get a win back for the stable because it wasn’t one of my best,” McDonald told TVN.
“He is a smart horse and I am looking forward to riding him at Hawkesbury, it looks a nice race for him.”
Leebaz was sent out the short priced favourite in the Doncaster Prelude after winning at his first two starts this campaign but the form is still looking very strong following Weary’s two placings at Group 1 level since.
Weary made up plenty of ground in the straight when third to stablemates Sacred Falls and Royal Descent in the Group 1 $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick on April 12 and then was there at the finish again when second to Hana’s Goal in the Group 1 $400,000 Schweppes All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick last Saturday.
It won’t be hard for McDonald to produce a winning ride on Leebaz as he is riding in outstanding form as he showed with his win in the Group 1 $3.5m Tooheys New Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill on April 5 on Mossfun for Team Hawkes.
And he also rode a first class race to win on New Zealand’s top weight for age performer It’s A Dundeel in the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 19, the second day of ‘The Championships.’
Leebaz has had very little trouble working his way up through the classes and has won five races from only eight starts as well as finishing in the runner’s up stall on two occasions.