Talented sprinter Chautauqua stormed home from the tail of the field to record a narrow victory over Lord Of The Sky in the 2015 T.J. Smith Stakes at Royal Randwick this afternoon.
Chautauqua was settled by jockey Tommy Berry at the tail of the field in the early stages of the race and he did not look as though he was going to find clear running when he came around the turn.
Lord Of The Sky hit the front at the 250 metre mark and looked like the winner, but Chautauqua absolutely exploded when he found clear running and he caught his rival in the shadows of the post to claim a maiden win at the highest level of racing.
Chautauqua had finished second in his two previous starts at the highest level of racing in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington during the spring and the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at the same venue and co-trainer Wayne Hawkes was delighted that the Encosta De Lago gelding had finally recorded a win at Group 1 level in the T.J. Smith Stakes.
“I panicked for a couple of seconds and my heart nearly stopped there a couple of times,” Hawkes said.
“He was never in a winning position, he was last, D Dunn was on his outside and obviously he wasn’t going to do him any favors, but to come from last today and do what he did was pretty freaky.
“Everybody knows his form, his last couple of starts have been unlucky and it is just great that he finally has the first Group 1 out of the race.”
Berry was having his first ride on Chautauqua after replacing Dwayne Dunn on the four-year-old and the talented hoop admitted after the race that he was unsure whether his mount had got his nose in front of Lord Of The Sky in the final stages of the race.
Berry was quick to pay credit to the Hawkes team and he said that he was delighted to have developed such a strong association with the leading stable.
“Full credit to the Hawkes team,” Berry said after the race.
“I was in an awkward spot coming to the corner, I just let him relax and come back and go round them and he’s just a super horse.
“How often do you get chances to ride sprinters like this for the first time; I can’t thank the Hawkes team enough.
“They’ve been a great support for me since I started riding a little bit for them and I’m very happy for the association.
“Everyone had their doubts but he did it.”
Lankan Rupee loomed as a chance at the 300 metre mark, but he faded in the final stages of the race, while Terravista could not match the acceleration of Chautauqua and Lord Of The Sky and could only battle to the line to finish third.