Co-trainer Wayne Hawkes has revealed that the 2016 T.J. Smith Stakes is set to be the major Autumn Racing Carnival goal for Chautauqua.
Chautauqua has not been seen at the races since he finished a close second behind Delectation in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 7 and he is yet to return to his Flemington stable after being sent to the spelling paddock after Team Hawkes ruled out a trip to Hong Kong for the Group 1 Hong Kong International Sprint (1200m) in December.
Hawkes told Racing Ahead that races like the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) and Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) will come around too quickly for Chautauqua and he said that the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on April 9 will be the main goal for the son of Encosta De Lago this preparation.
“He is good,” Hawkes said.
“He is still down at the farm and he hasn’t come in yet.
“We are certainly in no rush with him and we haven’t really decided where he is going to kick-off.
“He is definitely going to be trying to make it back-to-back TJs.
“The Lightning will come too quick probably and the Newmarket first-up is a pretty hard thing to do.
“I am not quite sure where we will go with him, but it is not a bad position to be in.
“He does come to hand pretty quickly and you can certainly wind him because he is very clean-winded and he doesn’t need a lot of work.”
Team Hawkes made the decision not to send Chautauqua to Hong Kong after he suffered a minor injury in trackwork, but Hawkes said that the five-year-old had taken no long-term harm from the issue.
Hawkes said that he was happy to miss out on the Hong Kong Sprint, but he did not rule out a potential visit to Hong Kong for the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint (1200m) in May before he pushes on to Royal Ascot.
“I kept saying that he had to be 100 percent and he was 97 percent,” Hawkes said.
“All he did was sprained his ankle, but he had to have a gallop three days later and a jump five days after that, so it just wasn’t going to work.
“Personally I wasn’t worried about not going to Hong Kong – there is big money in Australia and to see him race in Australia will be great.”
Chautauqua is currently available at 2016 TJ Smith Stakes odds of $4 with Ladbrokes and he is a clear favourite from Exosphere ($5.50), Terravista ($8), Delectation ($11), Buffering ($13), Japonisme ($13) and Press Statement ($13).