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The Hawkes Racing stable has confirmed the 2018 William Reid Stakes under the lights at Moonee Valley on March 23 as the first-up autumn target for super sprinter Chautauqua.
Original talks for the autumn campaign kick-off for the ‘Grey Flash’ included a possible run down the Flemington ‘Straight Six’ in the Group 1 $1.25 million Newmarket Handicap (1200m) on Super Saturday.
There was then a false confirmation he would still run on March 10, but at Royal Randwick first-up in the Group 1 $500,000 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) after a Warwick Farm trial on Monday morning.
That trial shelved, there has been another change of agenda for the veteran seven-year-old with Chautauqua to trial on Thursday at Rosehill before getting things underway officially on Friday March 23 in the Group 1 $500,000 William Reid Stakes (1200m).
Chautauqua, also a late omission from the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) field at Caulfield back on Blue Diamond Stakes Day, has already had two failed trial attempts in Sydney this season.
Twice he went to the post at Randwick on February 27, but the champ simply refused to run in both heats.
It was a setback co-owner Rupert Legh was happy to forgive and forget, putting the incident down to an invasive camera.
“He’s such a peculiar animal,” he told RSN 927 on Sunday.
“If you change things for him, he loses it – he gets pretty cranky. He’s got a mind of his own.”
Encosta De Lago gelding Chautauqua is a six-time Group 1 winner and he hasn’t raced since finishing fourth behind Redzel in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) last Melbourne Cup Carnival.
His latest victory was nearly a year ago when making history with a third consecutive victory in Randwick’s Group 1 $2.5 million T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) during April’s The Championships.
Team Hawkes plan to shoot for an unprecedented fourth TJ Smith Stakes trophy with Chautauqua on April 7 in Sydney this autumn, but it is the Melbourne racing fans that will get the first glimpse of the $8.8 million earner in action.
Chautauqua needs to trial satisfactorily for the stewards this week however, the horse under a current ban from racing after his misbehaviour at last Tuesday’s trials.
All going to plan, the William Reid Stakes run will see the galloper race at the notoriously tight Moonee Valley circuit for the first time since running two lengths back seventh to Rebel Dane in the 2016 Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) when unsuccessfully defending his title.
Chautauqua was also engaged for a third run in the Manikato Stakes last spring but was controversially scratched at the barriers seconds before the race.
The William Reid Stakes also shapes-up as a possible Group 1 autumn target for the likes of Peter & Paul Snowden’s The Everest champion Redzel, the Aaron Purcell-trained Coolmore Stud Stakes winner from the spring Merchant Navy and Lindsay Park’s shock Black Caviar Lightning winner first-up Redkirk Warrior this season.
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