Co-trainer Michael Hawkes can’t fault the condition of his star sprinter Chautauqua as he attempts to win back to back wins in Saturday’s Group 1 $2.5m Darley T J Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick.
Chautauqua won the 2015 T J Smith Stakes on a rain affected track and Hawkes said the five year old grey has returned from a Melbourne Autumn Carnival campaign in great order.
“He has settled back into Sydney life pretty good,” Hawkes told racing.com.
“He has travelled up well, he looks an absolute picture, and he is full of life.”
“He has been up here for about four or five days now. He has done everything right, he looks superb, he has been a lot more relaxed this time.”
“I supposed he is maturing all the time as he is getting older.”
“Can’t fault him, he is very well.”
Chautauqua scored a narrow first up win over T J Smith Stakes rival Terravista and Chris Waller’s three year old Japonisme in the Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on February 20 and then ran third behind The Quarterback and Black Heart Bart in the Group 1 $1.25m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 12.
The Encosta De Lago five year old worked at Rosehill on Tuesday morning and Hawkes said that he came through the gallop in great order as he prapares for the first day of ‘The Championships’.
“He worked super. He worked on the grass. He only did what he had to do. He ran nice time, he was relaxed doing it, and hopefully he can conserve all the energy for Saturday,” Hawkes said.
Hawkes, who trains in partnership with his father John and brother Wayne, said that the Team had pencilled in the T J Smith Stakes as Chautauqua main Autumn Carnival goal.
“This has always been the race we have wanted to win, back to back. Obviously last time he won it very good off a true tempo,” Hawkes said.
“To be fair he probably didn’t deserve to win but he just outclassed them on the day and obviously his class did prevail.”
“The whole time this has been the race we wanted. Last start it was a massive effort under the handicap conditions but back to weight for age on a track that he won at before that he loves, can’t really fault the horse.”
“He is third up, he thrived third up, he has done everything right and he looks a picture.”
Team Hawkes will also saddle up prolific winner Our Boy Malachi who had to be scratched from the Group 1 $700,000 Banjo Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill on March 19 because of a minor leg injury.
Hawkes has reported that Our Boy Malachi has recovered from the minor setback and will line up in the T J Smith Stakes in top order after finishing second in a 900m Rosehill barrier trial on Tuesday.
“He is going good the horse, he is well. We are very happy with him.”
“He was accepted for the Galaxy but was a scratching for that race but we have always had this race in mind as well and always said that they would have to meet sooner or later.”
“He is a class horse in his own right and he has had a lot of wins to his credit and he only been beaten three or four times.”
Chautauqua has drawn barrier eleven with Tommy Berry taking over from Dwayne Dunn who will ride Our Boy Malachi who has drawn gate six.
The T J Smith Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au has Chautauqua the $3.50 second favourite behind the John O’Shea trained Exosphere at $2.80 while Our Boy Malachi is one of the outsiders of the field at $21.
T J Smith Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $2.80 Exosphere, $3.50 Chautauqua, $9 English, $14 Terravista, $17 Delectation, $21 Fell Swoop, Flamberge, Our Boy Malachi, $26 Dothraki, Shiraz, $34 Rebel Dane, $41 Knoydart, $51 Fast ‘N’ Rocking, $61 Famous Seamus, $81 Boss Lane.