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Connections of super sprinter Chautauqua have ruled out a Royal Ascot bid in England this season despite the champion grey’s win in Hong Kong’s 2016 Chairman’s Sprint Prize at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The Hawkes Racing-trained Encosta De Lago five-year-old left his run late in this year’s Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m), but won brilliantly in the end securing his spot as the world’s best sprinter.
After settling at the tail of the star-studded field, he and jockey Tommy Berry exploded late and reeled off some incredible final sectionals to beat home the Brett Prebble-ridden Lucky Bubbles while roughie shot Strathmore finished off the trifecta in a surprise third.
Not only was the Chairman’s Sprint Prize success the first overseas for Chautauqua, but it was also the maiden Group 1 win for an Australian-trained horse in Hong Kong.
Hall of Famer John Hawkes, who trains in partnership with his sons Michael and Wayne, described the win – his 110th Group 1 – as his greatest achievement.
“It doesn’t get any better than this, to come here on the international stage with the boys and all the family, this is as good as it gets,” Hawkes told the media post-win.
“He is a special horse, we’ve seen him do that at home on a number of occasions but that is something else.”
The other Aussie representative in the race Buffering finished last and pulled up lame, but has since been cleared of serious injury.
While earlier post-Hong Kong plans for Chautauqua included a possible trip to Royal Ascot, the team have since ruled out the European bid and will instead bring the horse home for the spring as announced on Twitter. It is still worth keeping an eye on Chautauqua in the future for some Royal Ascot tips if he does indeed make the trip to the UK in the next couple of years.
“This morning we have made the decision that in best interest of Chautauqua that he WILL NOT be travelling to @RoyalAscot,” Hawkes Racing tweeted on Monday.
The big one on the cards for Chautauqua during the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival this coming November is the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m), which he is likely to contest for a third straight year.
In 2014 he ran second only a neck off Terravista in the Flemington Cup Carnival classic before his second again last spring behind Delectation, defeated an even narrower margin in a photo-finish.
Owner Rupert Legh also hinted at a return to Hong Kong in December for the iconic International Raceday at Sha Tin Racecourse.
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