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With international plans on the cards later in the year one of the confirmed Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival targets for the Team Hawkes-trained star sprinter Chautauqua is a title defence in the TJ Smith Stakes 2016 during April’s The Championships.
The Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained son of Encosta De Lago was set to make his overseas debut in December’s Hong Kong Mile but a minor injury prevented his trip to Sha Tin.
The five-year-old suffered the slight setback after going down in a shock loss as the beaten odds-on favourite when runner-up to Delectation in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington in November’s Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Chautauqua, a winner of over $3.4 million in prize money to date, won three on the trot leading up to the Darley Classic upset including the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m).
That win took his record up to nine victories and made him a dual Group 1 winner after his earlier autumn win in the $2.5 million Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick.
Co-trainer Wayne Hawkes said the stable was still just as keen to get Chautauqua’s name on the international racing circuit with possible 2016 plans for races in Hong Kong and Ascot in England.
“There is a race in Hong Kong in May, there’s a little race in Ascot in June,” Hawkes told Racing Ahead on RSN.
“He’s had his needles and everything to go to Hong Kong, so he’s fully ready to go, so there’s certainly the chance he could go to Hong Kong in May and then onto England in June.”
Before then the team is planning the galloper’s come back down under with the confirmation the horse would look to go back-to-back in the TJ Smith Stakes on Saturday, April 2, having made a full recovery from his spring hold-up.
“I saw him two weeks after he was in the paddock, probably three weeks, and he had ballooned, so he’d done tremendously well,” Hawkes said.
“We haven’t really decided where he is going to kick off; he’s definitely going to be trying to go back-to-back TJs.”
If successful Chautauqua will become the first dual TJ Smith Stakes winner since Black Caviar who won the race on non-successive years with victories in 2011 and 2013.
He is likely to be kept to a Sydney-only campaign this time in with Hawkes saying Victoria’s $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on February 20 would come too soon.
The Lightning will come too quick probably … stats and figures will tell you it’s a pretty hard thing to do, win a Newmarket first-up,” he said, referring to Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) run on ‘Super Saturday’ in March.
“He might not even have another run in Melbourne, he might run in Sydney first-up and then go to the T J … bring him through an easier race and then take on the big boys.”
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