Con­nec­tions have faith in grey flash

The Sportsman Weekend - - News - NEIL EVANS Good Luck @NeilE­vans­mail

THE $1 mil­lion Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) un­der lights at Moonee Val­ley on Oct. 26 could be the saviour race for the mighty grey Chau­tauqua, re­gard­less of whether he doesn’t fully satisfy NSW ste­wards in a “last chance” trial in late Septem­ber.

Pro­lific man­ag­ing owner Ru­pert Legh reaf­firmed his pas­sion and com­mit­ment around Chau­tauqua’s con­tin­u­ing bar­rier re-ed­u­ca­tion in one fi­nal bid to get him back on the track. Speak­ing The Sports­man yes­ter­day, Legh added there was also “ev­ery chance” Chau­tauqua could then go on to race in the Group 1 Win­ter­bot­tom (1200m) in Perth Dec. 1 a WA Sum­mer ex­trav­a­ganza.

In the wake of a “trial” re­prieve from Rac­ing NSW ste­wards on Tues­day, Legh said a surge in sup­port had come from in­ter­state for the trou­bled eight-year-old pow­er­house sprinter, and a race like the Manikato was right on the radar. Based on what he calls “trust and heart” and “fight­ing for what I be­lieve in,” Legh de­clared Chau­tauqua’s ca­reer is far from over.

Both WA and Vic­to­rian Rac­ing have ramped up in­ter­est in bring­ing the three-time Group 1 T.J. Smith win­ner to their car­ni­vals, de­spite lin­ger­ing doubt over whether he will ever learn to jump from the bar­rier again.

“Of course, we are more than happy to abide by what NSW ste­wards want and we are ap­pre­cia­tive of the op­por­tu­ni­ties we have been given. It is my be­lief are win­ning the bat­tle (with pub­lic sup­port) and op­por­tu­ni­ties still there. We are not giv­ing up.”

Chau­tauqua’s con­nec­tions be­lieve even if a ban was reap­plied in NSW, in­ter­state ju­ris­dic­tions can adopt dif­fer­ent at­ti­tude. “We would prob­a­bly have to pass a jump-out in Vic­to­ria, but the op­por­tu­nity is there un­der their dis­cre­tion,” Legh said.

“At this stage we are not sure whether Chau­tauqua would trial in ei­ther Syd­ney or Mel­bourne but a de­ci­sion on that would be left en­tirely in the hands of our man (a pri­vate equine be­haviourist known as Mr Q but well

in pri­vate ranks),” Legh said.

“An Ever­est start is very un­likely now; but races like the Manikato; Moir and McEwen are all pos­si­bil­i­ties. And we’ve had tremen­dous sup­port and in­ter­est from WA Rac­ing about the Win­ter­bot­tom. They re­ally want to pa­rade him over there and we’d love to take him across. He’s still a very happy horse who wants race, but I will be guided the whole way.”

Rac­ing NSW held its line dur­ing Tues­day’s fi­nal sub­mis­sions. “We need to be sat­is­fied he’s com­pet­i­tive out of the gates,” Chief Stew­ard Marc Van Ges­tel said. “Is he go­ing to stay in the gates and miss it by five lengths? That’s the ques­tion!”

Legh also said that while Hong Kong was a gen­uine al­ter­na­tive at the end of the year, he hadn’t ruled out trip to Churchill Downs for Breed­ers’ Cup Day, although the “ad­vice” was the track sur­face in the US prob­a­bly wouldn’t suit him. “We are not rul­ing any­thing out, even Royal As­cot (UK) is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.”

“Mr Q gave Chau­tauqua a mas­sive pass mark af­ter Satur­day’s run, con­sid­er­ing where we’ve come from and that’s what we stressed to the ste­wards,” Legh said. “I must stress the horse is very happy & do­ing well. If you could have heard

roar at the track when he came home, pub­lic are un­der­stand­ing of what we do­ing.”

Cer­tainly those watch­ing last Satur­day’s Rose­hill trial when Chau­tauqua vir­tu­ally fell out of the gates seven lengths be­hind rest of the field be­fore picking up and launch­ing home through in­cred­i­ble sec­tional times were in no doubt the big grey has never been in bet­ter shape.

“I stick to what I be­lieve in, that’s how I’ve al­ways worked, with trust. John Hawkes is a very good horse­man, and we’ll be guided over the next cou­ple of weeks as to where we go.”

Back on the track and a ter­rific triple Group 2 Day at Rand­wick wel­comes in Spring to­mor­row, and here are my early value fan­cies:

RAND­WICK (Sat Sept 1; Pro­jected Good 4; Rail +10m):

Race 4 2. BRIMHAM ROCKS (E/W)**Ex­pect: $7.00 — $7.50My Early Rat­ing: $4.80

Race 5 5. INVINCIBLE STAR**Ex­pect: $2.45 — $2.60My Early Rat­ing: $2.00

Race 7 15. UN­FOR­GOT­TEN**Ex­pect: $4.00 — $4.25My Early Rat­ing: $2.85

Race 8 1. OOHOOD (E/W)***Ex­pect: $6.50 — $7.00My Early Rat­ing: $3.75

Chau­tauqua (sec­ond from the left).

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