Chautauqua is a clear favourite in Darley Classic 2014 betting markets, but co-trainer Wayne Hawkes admits that he is worried by the prospect of the talented gelding starting alongside Slade Power in the Group 1 event at Flemington tomorrow.
Slade Power is a noted barrier rogue and he sat down in the stalls when give a jump out down the Flemington straight a fortnight ago, but Racing Victoria stewards refused to grant the wish of connections that the leading European sprinter is the final horse loaded into the barriers before the running of the Darley Classic.
Hawkes told RSN that he suggested to Terry Bailey that a gap was placed between Slade Power and the other horses in the 2014 Darley Classic field, but he admits that the Racing Victoria Chief Steward is caught between a rock and a hard place.
“We can’t do anymore, we have had a faultless preparation and the only thing I’m concerned about is that Slade Power is drawn next to us,” Hawkes said.
“My view was that if he is so bad we stay in three, you make four as a gap, he goes in five, there is a gap and then Sidestep goes in the next stall because on the inside of him is only going to be three horses including us.
“In real terms if there was a gap either side of Slade Power and he happened to do something silly then he isn’t going to interfere with other runners.
“To be fair I did say that on Tuesday before acceptances and bugger me we draw three and he draws four.
“You don’t want a repeat of Maldivian and Eskimo Queen from the Caulfield Cup, but it is a hard gig for the stewards and its puts Terry in a bloody hard spot.”
While Hawkes is concerned about Chautauqua being obstructed by Slade Power in the early stages of the race, he is thrilled with the condition of the Encosta De Lago gelding and believes that he is the horse to beat in the Darley Classic after he won the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) at Flemington on September 13 and the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) at the same venue on October 4 in dominant fashion.
Hawkes said that he is not worried about any potential ‘speed lanes’ down the Flemington straight and he just hopes that the four-year-old will be given every possible chance to record a maiden win at Group 1 level.
“He is really good,” Hawkes said.
“You can’t say that he has improved, but if he brings that same game that he brought the other day it will be hard for them to beat him with the sectionals that he has been running.
“We have won down the outside and we have won down the inside.
“They all went right to the outside because Dwayne went out there on Deep Field and they all went really wide and no horse had come right down the outside fence for nearly forever.
“The straight is different now, they all pan out and most horses get their chance.
“I don’t care where Chautauqua is as long as he is sitting off them and just gets a clear run through them.
“I am hoping that every horse gets their chance and the best horse on the day wins.”
Chautauqua is currently available at 2014 Darley Classic odds of $2.30 and he is a clear favourite to record a maiden win at Group 1 level from Lankan Rupee ($5), Slade Power ($7) and Terravista ($11).