Connections have faith in grey flash
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).