“If you’re a tad weary then you, too, will feel like ‘doing a Chautauqua’”
Kicking back in a comfy stable, somewhere out Western Sydney way, there’s a big, middle-aged, grey horse… enjoying his retirement.
While he now no doubt spends his days playing golf and (with his hooves up) reading the racing pages, back in his day Chautauqua was pretty special.
Racing fans will know who I’m talking about: The Grey Flash. sh. But for everyone else, this big, grey rey gelding was one of our most st loved and successful racehorses. rses.
During his stellar career, the conqueror won six Group p One races, contributing almost $9 million to his superannuation fund. Now that’s a lot of carrots.
But then one day, at the ripe old age of eight, the big fella did something dramatic, stubborn and, I believe, very, very clever.
He decided he didn’t want to do it anymore.
Remember, this horse was bred to race. It’s all he’d ever known. And most highly trained horses will do what the humans on their backs tell them to.
But one workday Chautauqua got out of bed, stretched, walked to his office (the barriers) and then… just stood there. He refused to do his job. And then he refused again. And again. And again. He just didn’t want to gallop anymore. So he didn’t. Like that other old grey gambler Kenny Rogers, Chautauqua knew when to hold them, knew when to fold them and knew when to walk away. There was something about this animal’s ab ability to know his own mind that really tickled my fancy. Probably because, although my grey hair is better hidden than h his, I too think about retir retirement ALL the time. Sometimes, I just want t to stand in the starting gates of life and… relax. When you start referring to your knees a as the good and bad one (rat (rather than the right and lef left), or check your super balanc balance fortnightly, that’s when I feel l like “doing a Chautauqua”. W When an approaching group of “youths” fills you with panic, that’s when I feel like “doing a Chautauqua”. W When your back goes out mor more often than you do, or you have a party and the nei neighbours don’t even notice notice, that’s when I feel like “doing a Chautauqua”. If you remember when fame was a by by-product of talent, or when your doctor tells you some problem is “normal for your age”, that’s when I feel like “doing a Chautauqua”.
If you realise the police, pilots and politicians are all younger than you, or you’re so ancient you can remember going a whole day without taking a picture of anything, that’s when I feel like “doing a Chautauqua”.
If you’re so old that you buy expensive cheese then, yes, you too will occasionally feel like “doing a Chautauqua”.
“I too think about retirement ALL the time”
However, though I feel a deep spirit-animal connection to this stubborn legend, unlike him I haven’t won six Group One races.
In fact, in my final year of high school I was beaten in the 800 metres by a girl who was wearing clogs.
So unless I win Lotto, or the government lowers the retirement age to 40, or the Hawkes family want to adopt me and put me up rent-free in an adjoining Sydney stable, I won’t be “doing a Chautauqua”.
This old grey mare will drag her sorry rump out of bed at sparrow’s tomorrow for (track) work. See you Monday morning… Samantha co-hosts Sunrise, 5.30am weekdays, on the Seven Network.
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