Underrated galloper Leebaz (NZ) (Zabeel) earned a chance to atone in next month's Gr.1 Doomben Cup with his dogged win at the Gold Coast on Saturday. Leebaz ($8) was first emergency for the Group Two Hollindale Stakes but gained a start when Victorian galloper Banca Mo was scratched.
Jockey Jim Byrne made the most of the chance with a clever ride to steer Leebaz home by a head to Sir Moments(Choisir) with 1-1/2 lengths to I'm Imposing ($14). Leebaz ran second to the quality mare Streama (Stratum) in last year's Doomben Cup and is a tougher horse this year.
The Zabeel gelding is trained by the Hawkes training partnership and co-trainer Michael Hawkes said Leebaz would press on to go one better at Doomben. "He is an under-estimated horse in a lot ways," Hawkes said. "His run in the Doncaster at his last when he finished 11th was a lot better than it looked and then he was placed at Randwick at his next start.
"All the way along the Doomben Cup has been his mission." Leebaz is raced by a syndicate headed by Greg Ingham who has a long association with the Hawkes. "These people spend a lot of money and it is good for them to get a result," Hawkes said.
Byrne said the race had turned out as planned when he was able to sit on the leader until the home turn. "He showed a lot of heart in the straight when Sir Moments came at him."
Brenton Avdulla, who rode Sir Moments, said gelding had again wanted to hang in when making his run. "He is a very nice horse on the up," Avdulla said. Jockey Tye Angland said I'm Imposing (Danehill Dancer) had wanted to drop the bit at a vital stage but had then picked up quickly.
Leebaz was bred and sold by Windsor Park Stud.