Chautauqua is set to return to the races in the 2015 McEwen Stakes and co-trainer Wayne Hawkes admits that the talented sprinter will be vulnerable in the Group 2 event at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Chautauqua was sent to the spelling paddock following his third place finish behind Dissident in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 18 and he is now ready for a return to racing after contesting two jump outs at Flemington.
The Encosta De Lago gelding is set to race over 1000 metres for the first time in his racing career in the McEwen Stakes and he has never previously raced at Moonee Valley, which Hawkes admits is unlikely to suit the fast-finishing sprinter.
“It is certainly going to be his most vulnerable race,” Hawkes said.
“There is not many races to run with the sprinters and Lee Freedman asked me this morning if we were running and I said that we are because where else do you run.
“They don’t cater many races for the high class sprinters and that is where we have to go with him.
“He is vulnerable, around the Valley you are going to get something that is going to sit-up on the pace and do no work and scoot around that corner.
“You know that Chautauqua’s last furlong is going to be his best furlong, but he is going to need the right cart into the race at the right time to spring off the back of them because if you get held up at the wrong time you will get beat.”
While Hawkes is unsure whether Chautauqua will be suited by the conditions in the McEwen Stakes, he is still happy with the condition of the star sprinter and he believes that the five-year-old could be in for the best preparation of his racing career to date, which the stable hopes is highlighted by a trip to Hong Kong for the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin in December.
“He has been very, very good the last 12 months and he is on song again,” Hawkes said.
“He was a bit fresh and the first one took the sting out of him which is wanted, so his second one was fine.
“They are only jump outs and they don’t pay until race day, so we are just using them for his sake to get him fit.
“The thing with him is that every preparation he has had he just keeps on improving all the time and you would like to think that this was going to be his best prep yet.”
Team Hawkes have not had a runner in the McEwen Stakes since Happy Zero finished sixth behind Buffering in the 2011 edition of the race.