Co-trainer Wayne Hawkes described Chautauqua’s work on Tuesday morning as his best work ever as he prepares for the Group 1 $1m Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m) at The Valley on Friday night.
Chautauqua is the winner of six Group 1 races, all of them with stunning performances including the 2015 Manikato Stakes but Hawkes is finding it hard to believe that the grey flash is still on the improve.
“I reckon he’s better. It’s pretty hard for a seven-year-old to come back and be better,” Hawkes told racing.com on Thursday morning.
“His work Tuesday morning was the best I’ve ever seen.
“So that only equates to what he did the other day in The Everest.
“When I told my brother (co-trainer Michael), he said, ‘See, I told you’.
“He’s going pretty good for a 35-year-old footballer; he would be, in football terms.”
Chautauqua has failed to run a place from three runs back this campaign after winning his third Group 1 $2.5m Darley T J Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick during the 2017 Sydney Autumn Carnival but put the writing on the wall with a typical fast finishing fourth behind Redzel in the $10m The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on October 14.
Hawkes, who trains in partnership with his father John and brother Michael, said that Chautauqua has settled in well into his Melbourne surroundings and a Moonee Valley surface with a little bit of give in the ground will suit him perfectly in the Manikato Stakes.
“He’s settled back in really good, he’s happy to be here, he loves wet tracks – Sydney’s been rock hard, so he’s been doing the rain dance the last two days and it’s working so far,” Hawkes said.
Chautauqua has drawn barrier ten in the eleven horse Manikato Stakes field with Dwayne Dunn back in the saddle.
Dunn and Chautauqua have combined in the past for several wins together and the top Melbourne jock will be hoping to add another Group 1 win to their record after they teamed up to win the 2016 Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington.
Chautauqua is on the third line of betting at $7.50 for the Manikato Stakes with Ladbrokes.com.au who have the Lindsay Park trained Vega Magic as the $2.25 favourite ahead of Ben Smith’s brilliant mare In Her Time at $5.
Vega Magic is coming off a last start second in The Everest while In Her Time is the winner of her last two outings in the Group 2 $500,000 Santos Coffee Premiere Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on September 30 and in The Everest consolation, the Listed $500,000 Sydney Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on October 14.