Co-trainer Michael Hawkes this week confirmed end-of-spring plans for stable star Chautauqua to race in Flemington’s Darley Classic 2015 before a possible trip to Hong Kong for the stallion’s international debut.
While an exact path into $1 million Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington Racecourse in the first week of November on Emirates Stakes Day is yet to be mapped out, the lucrative Melbourne Cup Carnival sprint is a likely target for Team Hawkes’ rising five-year-old Chautauqua.
A winner of over $2.39 million in prize money already thanks to a host of top Group 1 runs over the past year including a Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) victory at Randwick, the son of Encosta De Lago was last seen running third to the now-retired Dissident in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) on April 18.
Chautauqua also boasts Group 1 placings in the Newmakret Handicap (1200m) when runner-up to Brazen Beau in the Flemington classic in March and his second to Terravista in last year’s Darley Classic.
He kicked things off in Melbourne last spring with back-to-back Flemington wins down the straight in the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) and the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) winning the latter by four lengths.
Hawkes, who trains in partnership with his Hall of Fame father John and brother Wayne, though said there was a chance of a Sydney run first-up ahead of another run in the Darley Classic for the champ this time in.
All going well and Chautauqua will be overseas-bound post-Darley Classic on November 7 with an eye on the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin on December 13.
“Whether he starts here in Sydney or in Melbourne is yet to be decided, but he’ll probably only have two runs, maybe three at the most, and maybe have a freshen up and then obviously run in races like the Darley (Classic) and then hopefully Hong Kong at the end of the year,” Hawkes told Racing Victoria.
“Where we start him is yet to be decided but we will space his runs. He’s a fresh horse anyway, everybody knows how good a sprinter he is so we just have to monitor him and just space his runs.
“Even if he only has a couple of runs, it’s going to be neither here nor there, so long as they’re the right runs and the right races.”
Hawkes is confident that wherever they chose to kick-off the galloper’s campaign he will be competitive right from the start based on the way he’s come through his break in top order.
“He’s great, he spelled really, really well, he’s done very, very good and he’s come in last week and just looks super,” he said.
“He’s just taken to it like a duck to water. He’s a little bit older now, a little bit more mature now and he’s going really good for this early part.
“He’s definitely bigger and burlier and he looks fantastic.”
The Darley Classic into Hong Kong is the same path Melbourne’s Ciaron Maher hopes to take his star mare Srikandi who saluted in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap – Tattersall’s Tiara double this Queensland Winter Racing Carnival.
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