Team Hawkes’ star sprinter Chautauqua headlines a four-horse Australian contingent entered for an overseas bid chasing success in December’s 2015 Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin this summer.
Connections have the dual Group 1 winner set for an international raid after his success in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley last Friday night where he was too good for a star studded field under the lights to keep his flawless spring record in check.
Before heading over to Hong Kong for the International Race Day 1200m feature, Chautauqua is set to contest the $1 million Group 1 Darley Classic over the same distance at Flemington Racecourse on Emirates Stakes Day on November 7.
He is already odds-on in the futures Darley Classic betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au, who are offering Best Tote or SP + 20% on all the Melbourne Spring majors this season, at a quote of $1.80.
The next best in the all-in Darley Classic odds for one of the two Group 1 highlights of the last day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival are Golden Rose winning colt Exosphere who runs in the $500,000 Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) on Derby Day this Saturday and the Ciaron Maher-trained dual Group 1 winning mare Srikandi.
Five-year-old son of Encosta De Lago Chautauqua has winning form up to 1400m and over $3.25 million in prize money that he’ll be looking to add to over the coming months.
The other three Australian horses in the Hong Kong Sprint entries this season are also all Manikato Stakes graduates with runner-up Srikandi, third placed Rebel Dane and the Joe Pride-trained Terravista who was seventh past the post beaten over four and a half lengths.
Dubawi mare Srikandi won the Stradbroke Handicap – Tattersall’s Tiara double in the winter before her excellent return in the Manikato, while Rebel Dane is prepared by Sydney’s Gary Portelli and was just a short half-head further back in the Moonee Valley classic.
Terravista was disappointing in the Manikato and is rated an $11 hope to improve and go back-to-back when all four Hong Kong Sprint hopefuls face off in the Darley Classic.
The Hong Kong Sprint received a total of 56 entries and is a race that has a strong association with Aussie gallopers.
Back in 2000 and 2001 the Danny Bougoure-trained Falvelon won back-to-back editions of the classic with Damien Oliver aboard, and the now Flemington-based David Hayes enjoyed success the next year with All Thrills Too (2002) ridden by subsequent Melbourne Cup winning hoop from 2010 Gerald Mosse.
Aussie expats Brett Prebble and Zac Purton, both based in Hong Kong, have also ridden previous Hong Kong Classic winners.
Prebble saluted aboard Sacred Kingdom (2009) and Lucky Nine (2011) while Purton guided Aerovelocity to victory last year.
Among the star locals the Aussies will face off if they make the trip to Sha Tin for the Sprint are Gold Fun, 2011 winner Lucky Nine and the defending champ Aerovelocity prepared by Paul O’Sullivan.
A total of four Group 1 features are on the Hong Kong International Race Day card and the Hong Kong Cup (2000m) has attracted 14 Australian gallopers.
Among the headliners are Criterion, Rising Romance and Dibayani, as well as the John O’Shea-trained trio of Complacent, Contributer and Hartnell.
Cox Plate winning trainer Chris Waller has entered Group 1 stars Kermadec and Preferment, the latter heading towards next Tuesday’s $6.2 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
The Hong Kong Vase (2400m) features 76 entries including Cox Plate contenders Gailo Chop and Highland Reel as well as Murray Baker’s Caulfield Cup winner and 2015 Melbourne Cup bound Kiwi galloper Mongolian Khan.
A dozen Aussies are in Vase contention including Lindsay Park’s Almoonqith who earned a Melbourne Cup bid this spring with his Geelong Cup victory last time out.
The meetings final feature is the Hong Kong Mile (1600m) where six Australian-trained hopefuls include Kermadec who is a dual nominee for the program.
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