Chautauqua Appears to be in Top Form Defying Age as 7YO Sprinter

The other sprinters might as well have remained cowering in their stalls, as a rested, refreshed and rejuvenated Chautauqua returned from a spell to begin pre-training following his brief autumn spell after winning his third consecutive Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes last month at Royal Randwick.

Trainer Michael Hawkes is acting as spokesman (spokeshorse?) for Chautauqua, claiming that his sprinter is even more formidable, something that is not common for us mortals, who decline as we age.

The “Grey Flash,” as Chautauqua is known, for his colour, not his age, giving Hawkes optimism for the spring campaign.

Said Hawkes of Chautauqua, The reality is, as you get older, generally, you do not get better, but physically, Chautauqua looks unbelievable. It is the best I have seen him look after a spell. He is a big, strong mature horse now. He went out on a high and has spelled so well in the weather. It is pretty exciting to think what could be ahead this spring.’’

Hawkes is, like many trainers, typically reserved with regard to future thoroughbred performance, preferring to manage expectations. Touting Chautauqua as he did supplies an ominous message to any rivals that they had better bring their “A” games to any turf where Chautauqua occupies a barrier.

Hawkes has seemingly managed the 7YO’s career brilliantly. With only 28 starts, Chautauqua has not been overused. Those with a historical bent might recall earlier days when horses such as Phar Lap ran 28 races in one season, two at the most.

The mighty sprinter is the early $4.60 favourite for the inaugural running of The Everest at Randwick spring next, but Hawkes is expressing concern that the horse may have to travel in order to get some lead-up races in, as Sydney does not exactly offer much in the line of weight-for-age sprints during the spring carnival.

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