Chautauqua has produced arguably the biggest turn of foot in his career to win the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) for the third-consecutive year at Royal Randwick this afternoon.
Chautauqua appeared to have lost his trademark turn of foot when third in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) first-up this time and was subsequently set on a course towards this afternoon’s Doncaster Mile, however Team Hawkes decided to chance the veteran sprinter at a third-consecutive win in the autumn’s richest sprint after finishing third behind Winx in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) a fortnight ago.
Jumping from the barriers fairly, jockey Tommy Berry took a sit on Chautauqua at the tail of the TJ Smith Stakes field as Russian Revolution, Fell Swoop and Malaguerra set the early pace.
Switching off at the field was strung out, the Encosta De Lago gelding was faced with a wall of horses leading into the final straight and appeared to be down and out, until Berry found a gap between Tivaci and Terravista towards the outside of the field.
While still appearing to have simply too much to do with make up the distance on the runaway leaders, Chautauqua wound back the clock and mustered a turn of foot that had to be seen to be believed; the grey catching English and Fell Swoop just before the winning post to record a sixth Group 1 triumph.
Co-trainers Wayne and Michael Hawkes said that the team never gave up the faith in their star sprinter and were thrilled that he was able to successfully complete a hat-trick of wins in the TJ Smith Stakes.
“This what people come to see, these great races and horses,” Wayne Hawkes said after the race.
“For everyone who has stuck solid, gee you’ve got to love him, don’t you!
“This horse just defies everything and there is a lot of knockers out there, but he’s the king and he always has been. He’s never gone anywhere and he’s showed everyone what he’s about, he’s an international superstar.
“Hong Kong was special, last year here was special and today was just special to see.”
Berry delivered a gem of a ride aboard Chautauqua to win the TJ Smith Stakes, but was quick to lay all the praise on Team Hawkes and the quality of his champion mount.
“I just rode him with confidence,” Berry said after dismounting.
“People have been potting him all week, but how could you pot him over this distance, going for a third TJ?
“I was rattling through the pack and it was a glimpse of last year – English out the front and my bloke hadn’t let down yet. When you think he’s at his top, he’ll let down again.
“He’s a special horse to me, that’s for sure. He’s the best sprinter in the world.”
English and Fell Swoop rounded out the minors in last year’s edition of the TJ Smith Stakes and both performed admirably to repeat the effort, albeit trading places in 2017.