Co-trainer Wayne Hawkes said the pressure was on jockey Dwayne Dunn in the Newmarket Handicap 2016 on ‘Super Saturday’ at Flemington aboard race favourite Chautauqua.
Twelve months ago Dunn rode superstar sprinter Chautauqua to a second behind Chris Waller’s three-year-old Brazen Beau (2015) in the $1.25 million Group 1 Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m), an effort he’s out to improve one on this Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival.
The Team Hawkes-trained Encosta De Lago gelding backed up from a first-up Caulfield win in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) to chase home the ‘Magic Man’ Joao Moreira and Brazen Beau in the Newmarket.
Getting back off the speed is not something Hawkes, who trains in partnership with his brother Michael and Hall of Fame father John, wants to see Dunn do again on the now five-year-old Chautauqua in this season’s Newmarket.
“I think we know in the Newmarket last year two or three jockeys sat back in the race and Joao Moreira pulled their pants down,” Hawkes told Racing Victoria this week.
“It was probably not Chautauqua’s fault (he lost), to be totally fair.”
Runner-up in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at the same track and distance for the second year ago in the spring, Chautauqua returned on February 20 to win the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) with Dunn in the saddle.
It was the galloper’s fourth Flemington win from seven starts at the famous straight track, and the victory took his career earnings up over $3.88 million.
The horse is now out to complete the Lightning Stakes – Newmarket Handicap double for the first time since the mighty mare Black Caviar (2011) and Hawkes said it was up to Dunn to get the job done with the right ride tactically from the outside barrier – 10 of 10.
“When you’re centre-half-forward in a grand final, you need to kick four goals one (behind),” Hawkes said using an Rugby League analogy to get his point across.
“I didn’t mistaken what I said pre-Lightning Stakes and that’s exactly what I said; he (Dunn) must go there and he must kick four goals one. It’s as simple as that.
“You need to get it right. You’re on the big stage and I suppose the more he keeps winning the more pressure there is. If they want to ride these horses, that’s what they’ve got to do.
“There’s enough pressure on us just getting the horse to the races. Dwayne has to get it right, it’s as simple as that because, if he doesn’t, he’ll get beat.”
Down the straight a wide gate is a non-issue with three of the past four Newmarket Handicap winners saluting from double digits, most recently Lankan Rupee (12 of 14) with the last from barrier 10 being Shamexpress (10 of 13).
In the latest Newmarket Handicap odds at Ladbrokes.com.au Chautauqua pays $2.50 to be the next, with Waller’s Lightning Stakes third placegetter Japonisme ($3.80) following in the markets.
While the barrier isn’t a problem historically speaking, Chautauqua does have the weight against him this year.
He carries the 58kg top weight and the only horses to carry more than 57kg to victory in the Newmarket Handicap since Shaftesbury Avenue (58kg in 1991) were turf heroes Black Caviar (58kg in 2011) and Hay List (58.5kg in 2012).
Success would see the Hawkes’ name in the Newmarket Handicap winners’ list for the first time, something special according his son.
“There’s no Newmarket Handicap in the trophy cabinet and to win a Group 1 race for the first time is always that little bit more exciting, so it would be a little bit special,” Wayne said.
The ‘Super Saturday’ run is Chautauqua’s final tune-up before heading to Sydney on April 2 for the $2.5 million Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick during ‘The Championships’, a race he won last autumn.
To back Chautauqua this weekend and in the 2016 TJ Smith Stakes at the right price, head to Ladbrokes.com.au now!