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The Team Hawkes-trained grey Chautauqua must salute for the punters and win the 2016 Chairman’s Sprint in Hong Kong on Sunday if he is to continue onto England’s Royal Ascot later in the year connections have confirmed.
Co-trained John Hawkes was pleased with the Friday track gallop at Sha Tin from the stable’s four-time Group 1 winning Encosta De Lago five-year-old who is leading markets at Ladbrokes.com.au for the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) this weekend.
A winner of $5.5 million in prize money to date including the big money for his dual TJ Smith Stakes victories in Sydney, the gelding debuts overseas on Sunday and is at $2.15 to salute in the Chairman’s Sprint from barrier six with Tommy Berry in the saddle.
He impressed Hall of Fame trainer Hawkes with his single Sha Tin lap that saw him work home in his last 400m sectional in 23.7 seconds, the final 200m completed in 11.2 seconds, the horse wanting to quicken once into the open straight.
“He wasn’t out to do too much this morning, he is lovely and relaxed, a little keen in his work but that’s him,” Hawkes said on Friday according to Racing Victoria.
“He is exactly the same as he is at home, he always likes to get in to his work, we didn’t want to go over hard today, got to keep him for Sunday.”
Hawkes also confirmed Chautauqua would need to beat all the runners in Sunday’s impressive field, including fellow Australian champion Buffering ($6) and the defending Chairman’s Sprint winner Gold-Fun ($8), if Royal Ascot stays on the cards.
“He has got to win otherwise he will be going back home, it is as simple as that,” Hawkes said.
“All we are focused on is Sunday at this stage, we can put the plans together pretty quickly if we need to.”
Eight-year-old Buffering also had a casual gallop on Friday morning, the Robert Heathcote-trained son of Mossman cantering two laps at the Sha Tin track ahead of his shot at back-to-back Group 1 wins overseas.
Buffering, jumping from barrier three with Damian Browne continuing his association with the $7.2 million earner this Sunday, was last seen racing on March 26 at Dubai when he took out the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m).
His last run over 1200m was in November when saluting in Perth’s Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m).
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