Wayne Hawkes may have come out yesterday stating Chautauqua is “not really a 1200-metre horse” but the four-year-old gelding remains the $3 favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au to win the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m).
Jockey Dwayne Dunn also believes the return to 1200 metres could help the gelding net his first Group One race win.
Chautauqua is one of nine sprinters set to run down the Flemington straight on Saturday, which is the smallest field in the race’s history.
Dunn will ride the gelding as they jump from barrier three. The hoop believes that a number of key factors will work in his favour in the race, including a return to Flemington, down the straight, and over 1200 metres.
Chautauqua will carry 55.5kg in the 2015 Newmarket Handicap, one kilogram less than Terravista and three kilograms less than Lankan Rupee. This could help the gelding out sprint his classier rivals.
The inclusion of Robbie Laing’s Lord Of The Sky to the field will also inject speed into the race, which will benefit Chautauqua.
“He will make sure there is speed,” Dunn told TVN.
“If he (Chautauqua) is anywhere near them, I would expect him to out sprint them.
“If he brings what we’ve seen of him do down the straight then he’s going to be hard beat.
“At this point in time he seems to be better down the straight. All his best form has been down the straight. If he does what we have seen him do at Flemington there is no reason why he can’t win.
“But he will want to bring his ‘A’ game.”
Chautauqua has won five of his 11 career starts and placed in a further four. The gelding came into his own during the spring carnival last year, winning the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) first-up before blitzing his competition in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) by four lengths. The gelding stepped up to Group One racing for the first time on November 8 in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m), in which he just missed Terravista by a head. All three races were run at Flemington over the distance of the Newmarket Handicap.
Following a three month spell, Chautauqua resumed in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield on February 14. He was ridden quietly as usual, being held up in eighth place between runners. He was eased across heels at the 300m mark and then ran on strongly, hitting the lead with 50 metres to go for a narrow but impressive first-up win.
Open your Ladbrokes.com.au online betting account to receive up to $250 in a bonus match on your first bet.