A booming win by Australian sprinter Chautauqua on the first day of The Championships in Sydney has the grey flash set for a start in what is shaping as a star-studded Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize at Sha Tin on May 1.
Chautauqua joined all-time great Black Caviar as a two-time winner of the Group One T J Smith Stakes, making up an incredible amount of ground late with his trademark finishing burst.
“We’re going to Hong Kong and hopefully we get there, and if we win in Hong Kong we’ll look at England. He’s no guarantee to go to England but we’re definitely going to Hong Kong,” co-trainer Wayne Hawkes said after the scintillating performance.
Chautauqua was set to compete in the Hong Kong Sprint last December before a wrenched joint less than a month out from the race put an end to his preparation.
The Chairman’s Sprint Prize has been elevated to international Group One level and made a part of the Global Sprint Challenge for the first time this season. The race looks like attracting a top class field, which will be released on Wednesday and is likely to include fellow Australian Group One winner Buffering and 2015 Hong Kong Sprint fifth Mongolian Saturday.
Chautauqua’s jockey Tommy Berry was in awe of the performance and isn’t worried about how the five-year-old’s run-on pattern will transfer to Sha Tin.
“He will be hard to beat anywhere, he just runs sectionals other horses cannot match,” Berry said before boarding a flight to Hong Kong for today’s Sha Tin meeting. “Sure, he gets back, but the way he gets home is unbelievable. The instructions were to not even worry about the first half of the race, just get him clear and ride him with confidence.”
Berry will ride Designs On Rome in the Group Two Chairman’s Trophy today and was sharing a flight with Zac Purton, who scored a Group One of his own on Yankee Rose in the ATC Sires Produce Stakes.
Purton had won his first-ever Group One in the same race 10 years earlier on Excites and carried out a plan to perfection on the exciting David Vandyke-trained filly.
Unfortunately for Purton, a scheduling clash means he won’t get the chance to chase back-to-back Group Ones on the two-year-old when she lines up in the Group One Champagne Stakes as the likely favourite in two weeks.
“We race that day in Hong Kong, but that’s the way it goes,” Purton said. “It gives a chance to a good, young jockey in Jason Collett – he rode the horse in her early races and hopefully he can get himself a Group One as well.”
Yankee Rose cost just A$10,000 (HK$59,000) as a yearling and has now won A$1.4 million for a group of 20 owners, many of them new to the racing industry.
“This win isn’t about me,” Purton said. “It’s a great story with the owners and also for David, who won his first Group One today. This horse shows dreams can come true, it’s the type of thing that keeps people wanting to be involved in racing.”
Vandyke called Purton’s ride from a wide gate “masterful” in its execution.
“Zac just summed the situation up so well,” Vandyke said. “He had her in exactly the right spot in the run and I don’t think I’ve seen many jockeys that are better at getting a horse to balance up and then move through their gears like he can. He is one of the best jockeys I have seen.”