The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Hawkes Racing have confirmed via Twitter that Tommy Berry will partner the stable’s star sprinter Chautauqua when he runs in Hong Kong’s Chairman’s Sprint Prize at Sha Tin Racecourse on May 1.
Berry has been aboard the champion Encosta De Lago gelding for four of his 21 career starts to date.
He will jump on the world’s top-rated sprinter for a fifth time in next month’s prestigious Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m), which is the final leg of the Hong Kong Speed Series.
Also in contention to jump on the $5.5 million earner for his international debut was Dwayne Dunn.
Dunn traditionally rides the five-year-old grey in Melbourne, while Berry is the go-to hoop for Chautauqua’s Sydney assignments.
Berry got the tick over Dunn for the Hong Kong showdown however and so will reunite with the galloper after guiding him to a successful title defence in Randwick’s Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) on April 2 during ‘The Championships’.
“The decision has been made,” Hawkes Racing Tweeted on Thursday morning.
“@TommyBerry21 is to ride Chautauqua in the Chairmans Sprint Prize.”
The TJ Smith Stakes was the third Group 1 winning ride for Berry on Chautauqua.
Berry also rode him to victory in the 2015 TJ Smith Stakes and Moonee Valley’s Manikato Stakes last October, while his other ride on the champ was an All Aged Stakes third in April last year.
“I am wrapped to be given the opportunity to ride Chautauqua and represent Australia on the world stage,” Berry Tweeted from his own account in response to the news.
Chautauqua might have no race experience overseas, but he is dominant favourite at the Aussie bookmakers in early Chairman’s Sprint Prize betting paying around $2.50 for the win.
He has reportedly settled well in Hong Kong after arriving earlier in the week, and had his first look at Sha Tin in a gallop on Wednesday.
“He lost a little weight on the flight over but I’m not too worried about that,” co-trainer Michael Hawkes told Thoroughbred Daily News.
“He was quite bright when he got off the plane and I’m sure he’ll pick up over the next two or three days.
“The main thing is that we are here.
“We wanted to come last December [for the Hong Kong Sprint] but he just wasn’t 100% then.
“He’s in great shape now and the important thing now is to get him to relax and acclimatised in the new environment.
“We’ll go easy with him in the next few days.”
Chautauqua might be dominating the Chairman’s Sprint Prize odds, but he faces a very strong field Sunday week including the second, third and fourth-highest rated sprinters according to the most recent Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.
Those are Sha Tin superstar Aerovelocity, fellow Aussie Buffering fresh off his Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint win in Dubai and the Australian expat Not Listenin’tome.
Also in the mix are Lucky Bubbles, Thewizardofoz and Gold-Fun.
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