The world’s highest-rated sprinter Chautauqua is a surprise late Doncaster Mile 2017 entry for this year’s The Championships in Sydney in April.
The Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained champion is yet to race over further than 1400m, but that could change with a run in the $3 million Group 1 The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick on April 1.
The six-year-old son of Encosta De Lago has to date amassed over $6.5 million in prize money thanks to a host of short-distance wins in elite company.
Chautauqua is a five-time Group 1 winner including back-to-back victories in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) run on the same day as the Doncaster Mile.
The horse is also internationally performed having saluted in Sha Tin’s Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint (1200m) defeating the Hong Kong locals last May.
While not having ruled out a bid at a third straight TJ Smith Stakes victory, co-trainer and Hall of Famer John Hawkes told Racing NSW on Friday that the stable ace looked to be after more distance this campaign.
“The TJ is still in the mix. It just gives us an option now that we never had before,” Hawkes, who also prepared the 1999 TJ Smith Stakes winner Ab Initio, said.
That was evident first-up at Caulfield Racecourse on February 11 with Chautauqua running two lengths away third behind Super Cash (1st) and I Am A Star (2nd) in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m).
Failing to reel in his rivals with his usual scintillating late burst of speed, the popular grey still ran through the line well and Hawkes said they would use the horse’s next two runs as a guide as to where to finish up his campaign.
“His next run or two will determine where he goes,” he said.
“People forget he won a Hawkesbury Guineas over 1400m [in 2014] and he should have won the All Aged over 1400m when Dissident beat him [in April of 2015].
“We’re still deciding where he goes next, whether it’s Sydney or Melbourne we’ll make our minds up probably next week, but he is getting older now.”
Chautauqua continues to sit top of futures TJ Smith Stakes odds 2017 at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $6.
Some of the other key contenders for the lucrative Doncaster Mile Day sprint face off at Flemington this Saturday in a star-studded edition of the $750,000 Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m).
The weight-for-age sprint down the straight has attracted 13 hopefuls including well-backed three-year-olds Flying Artie and Star Turn who both kick off their autumn campaigns.
As for the latest Doncaster Mile betting futures, Chautauqua is quoted at $13.
He trails only Godolphin’s Epsom Handicap winner Hauraki ($10), the Chris Waller-trained filly Omei Sword ($10) who has had her autumn return delayed due to injury and Kris Lees’ Cantala Stakes winner Le Romain ($11) who kicked things off with a Group 3 win at Randwick on February 13.
Check out the latest odds on Chautauqua this autumn in the upcoming Group 1 races online now at Ladbrokes.com.au.