High quality sprinter Chautauqua’s Autumn Carnival plans are still not confirmed with co-trainer Wayne Hawkes not committing to a start in the Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on February 20.
Chautauqua had a jump out down the Flemington straight this morning alongside of the Chris Waller trained Group 1 winners Delectation and Japonisme.
The trio finished the 800m heat virtually together with Hawkes happy with the effort of the grey gelding, but added that he had a good blow and he would need to monitor his recovery rate.
Hawkes, who trains in partnership with his father John and brother Michael, had pencilled in the Black Caviar Lightning as Chautauqua’s Autumn Carnival pipe opener, but might have to find an alternative if he thought the 1000m down the Flemington straight would be coming up too quickly.
“He had a jump out this morning up the straight. He was good. He did everything right,” Hawkes said,
“Pulled up big and had a big blow, but you would expect that,”
“It depends how he pulls up if he runs in the Lightning next Saturday or not.”
Hawkes was unsure where he would kick off Chautauqua’s Autumn Campaign if he doesn’t line up in the Black Caviar Lightning this weekend.
“I don’t know,” Hawkes admitted.
Hawkes has virtually ruled out a start in the Group 1 $500,000 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on February 27 and was not keen on running first up in the Group 1 $1.25m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 12.
“The race like the Oakleigh Plate is not his sort of races. Carrying 58kg and you would probably be getting beat,” Hawkes said.
“It is probably easier to win a Newmarket and a Lightning than it is to win an Oakleigh Plate.”
“With the Oakleigh Plate there is always four or five hard luck stories. It is not always the best horse, it is the best horse on the day that gets the best run.”
“Quite often they are just sitting off the pace and working into it at the right time, get the right split and away they go.”
“Chautauqua is better suited to running up the straight, albeit he has won at Caulfield, there is no problems there, but he would be better suited to running up the straight.”
Hawkes stated that the Group 1 $2.5m Darley T J Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 2, the first day of ‘The Championships’, was five year old’s main Autumn mission.
“The T J is the race, there is no doubt about that, he won it last year, it’s a $2.4 million race, $1.3 or $1.4 million to the winner.
“It’s the race, but how we get there not sure.”
“The Newmarket first up would not be an easy assignment. There is a race on Newmarket Handicap Day in Sydney he could run first up, second up in the T J.”
“There are a few options.”
“We always do less than more and we won’t be changing tact.”
As well as winning the 2015 T J Smith Stakes, Chautauqua’s other Group 1 win was the $1m Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley during the 2015 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Chautauqua is currently on the second line of betting at Ladbrokes.com.au for the Newmarket Handicap at $6 behind the John O’Shea trained Exosphere and is a $3.80 favourite to defend his title in the T J Smith Stakes.