The Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) on March 14th appears likely to figure as the next meeting point of the country’s leading sprinters, as trainer Wayne Hawkes revealed spring sensation Chautauqua will likely be set for the Flemington feature before a return to Sydney for The Championships in 2015.
Jogging home to win the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) first-up on September 14th, Chautauqua stamped her claims as a serious short distance competitor when hitting the line four lengths in the clear of closest rival Bounding in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) on October 4th before running an agonizingly-close second to Terravista in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) last time out on November 8th.
Having reportedly taken well to his time in the paddock, Hawkes told Racing Ahead the team is eyeing the Newmarket Handicap as the first major target for the classy four-year-old, ahead of a return to Sydney for the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Day 1 on The Championships in early April.
“Chautauqua was like getting beaten by one point in the Grand Final to be fair, it was the kick in the guts you certainly didn’t want,” Hawkes said.
“To be the best horse and that, but that’s horse racing and I’d like to run the race again but every time those big races are run there’s always four or five should have wons.
“We’ll just come back in the autumn and probably get him ready for the Newmarket; I think Terravista’s going to come back for the Newmarket so I’d like to smack his butt first-up that’s for sure and then go back to Sydney and meet again.”
Finishing outside the places just twice over his ten career starts so far, Chautauqua was unlucky to finish second in a minor sprint over 1200m at Seymour on debut on October 20th last year before finishing half a length off the pace of By The Grace in the Hanging Rock Winery Plate (1200m) on November 6th.
Returning to racing for a five length victory in the NZ Bloodstock Plate (1130m) on March 13th, the Encosta De Lago gelding ran second in the Listed Gosford Guineas (1200m) on April 26th; overcoming a luckless run for seventh in the Group 2 Royal Sovereign Stakes (1200m) with an impressive victory in the Group 3 Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) most notably on May 3rd.