A slot in the 2018 $13m The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on October 13 for Chautauqua is looking a million miles away after the grey flash refused to leave the barriers again in a 900m trial at Rosehill today.
Chautauqua had been barred from racing after he refused to leave the starting gates on four separate occasions in his preparation for his 2018 Autumn Carnival campaign and was ordered by Racing NSW Stewards to pass two barrier test before being reinstated.
The Team Hawkes trained sprinter was one step closer to a Spring Carnival campaign when he jumped cleanly in a Flemington jump out last Friday week and the Team were hoping the multiple Group 1 winner would get the all clear to return to the race track with another clean jump today.
Tommy Berry had a great relationship with Chautauqua with the pair combining for five Group 1 wins and the then Hong Kong based jockey made a flying trip to Melbourne to partner the big grey in his Melbourne jump out and Berry, who has now returned to Sydney permanently, was in the saddle again today and said he was heartbroken when he knew the grey was going to refuse to jump.
“I’ve reached the highest of highs on the horse, so (when he didn’t jump) it was heartbreaking,” Berry told Racing.com at the Rosehill trials.
“Going to the barriers he gave me a great feel, he looked in great order and he felt exactly the same as he did when I jumped him out at Flemington.
“But I pretty much knew as soon as we walked in the barriers he wasn’t going to jump, he leaned on the back of the gates there and from what Brenton (Avdulla) and Dwayne (Dunn) had told me in the past, that’s what he has been doing when he hasn’t jumped.
“So unfortunately I pretty much knew what was going to happen before the jump.
“All I can say is that he’s in great shape and looks well but he didn’t want to do it today.”
Part owner Rupert Legh was naturally disappointed to see Chautauqua stay in the starting gates again and not be competitive with the rest of the field that included the champion mare Winx.
“Tommy basically said that he was a totally different horse walking into the barriers to what he was two weeks ago at Flemington,” Legh told Sky Racing’s Racing HQ.
“In his stalls he is great and jumping around and when he gets out to the barriers he has just learned another little trick.”
“You just have to sit back and re-group and ask yourself the question what is good for everyone, for racing.”
Legh said that he would leave the final decision up to head trainer John Hawkes if Chautauqua perseveres with a Spring Carnival campaign or retires the six times Group 1 winning sprinter.
“You don’t get any better horseman than John Hawkes and you don’t get anyone who looks after his horses better that John Hawkes,” Legh said.
“At the end of the day John will make the right decision. He will make the call and if he thinks it is time (to retire Chautauqua), he will make that call.
“We will let John make the decision, but it won’t be made today and it is more likely that we will go back to the trials and try again and hopefully the horse jumps and we see the beat of Chautauqua again.”
Chautauqua’s ban from the race track is now likely to be extended by the Racing NSW Stewards and Legh said the Team will follow what instructions are set down.
“We will do what the stewards want us to do and if they want us to trial twice we will do it,” Legh said.
Chautauqua is the winner of thirteen of his thirty-two race starts with six wins at Group 1 level and has earned a tick over $8.8 million in prizemoney.