The airborne Kelly Schweida-trained...
Co-trainer Michael Hawkes has warned punters not to forget about their champion sprinter Chautauqua who is out to return to winning form in Saturday’s 2017 The Everest race.
Sydney is now host to the world’s richest turf race with the inaugural edition of the $10 million The Everest (1200m) stealing the spotlight away from Melbourne’s Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas Day this weekend.
Royal Randwick will draw the punters as a 12-horse field of star sprinters take to the track in Race 8 for The Everest race, including evergreen seven-year-old Chautauqua who jumps from gate five with Brenton Avdulla to ride.
Dubbed the ‘Grey Flash’, Chautauqua has won over $8.37 million in prize money winning six Group 1s over his career including at an international level at Hong Kong in the 2016 Chairman’s Sprint.
His latest turf triumph was back in April when narrowly defeating fellow The Everest rival on Saturday English for his historical third Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) success.
This campaign Chautauqua has had two unplaced runs.
Both efforts however saw the champion come from well back in the field to flash home late.
First-up he was 2.2 lengths off Redzel, Team Snowden’s flying five-year-old another key The Everest fancy on the weekend, in the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m).
Last start Chautauqua was good late again running sixth, 2.8 lengths off the winner In Her Time and runner-up English in the Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m).
There are plenty of doubters suggesting that the best days are behind Chautauqua and he simply doesn’t have the ability to give his rivals such a start and still run home for the win.
Hawkes, who trains in partnership with his Hall of Fame father John and brother Wayne, however is happy to wait for Saturday when he believes Chautauqua will silence the critics.
“One thing you can’t do with champions is you can’t forget about them,” Hawkes told Racing NSW.
“Whether he is under the radar or not, people have their own opinion, but he is on song. We’ve set him for this race all along and can’t fault him.
“It wouldn’t matter if he is $2 or $10 on the day as long as he wins that’s all that matters to us.”
The updated The Everest odds online at Ladbrokes.com.au list Chautauqua as the $6 equal second favourite with Lindsay Park’s last start Memsie Stakes winner Vega Magic who races in Sydney for the first time.
“First up last preparation he was at Caulfield and he ran a good race even though everybody thought it was just fair,” Hawkes continued speaking about Chautauqua’s third in the Rubtion Stakes in February.
“His sectionals told the story. Then he was second up in the Canterbury Stakes [running second to Le Romain over 1300m on a Heavy track] and probably should have won.
“Third up we took on Winx [finishing third in the George Ryder Stakes] and was then the forgotten horse.
“That said, you are never completely under the radar with this sort of horse.
“He owes us nothing. He has won six Group 1s and won at international level.
“He is the best sprinter in the world at the moment and has already done it.
“He doesn’t have to prove anything. Everyone expects horses to win all the time but that’s not what he is about.
“He is in the right frame of mind and exactly where you want him to be. He was always going to be third up here.
“This race was always going to be a lot different to the previous two.
“His first up run was outstanding. They ran hard over 1100m and second up he was good too.
“There was speed taken out midrace, they slowed up and he had some kick back in his face from the track.
“There will be a lot of speed generated and with a bit of luck, he’ll be right there.”
Markets are led by the Gary Portelli-trained filly She Will Reign, the Golden Slipper winner returning at The Valley on September 29 to win the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m).
She Will Reign firmed into $4.50 in The Everest betting after drawing ideally with barrier two for the weekend.
To get behind Chautauqua to win The Everest 2017 and to access all the best weekend racing odds and offers head to Ladbrokes.com.au today.
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