Explosive sprinter Chautauqua (5g Encosta de Lago x Lovely Jubly, by Lion Hunter) confirmed his standing as the best sprinter in Australia and quite possibly the world when scoring a last to first win in the Group I ATC TJ Smith Stakes for the second year in a row.
When winning last year, the Hawkes Racing trained gelding was posting his first Group I win, but has since added Group I victories in the MVRC Manikato Stakes and VRC Lightning Stakes to his tally and came into this race off a last start third in the Group I VRC Newmarket Handicap.
Ridden cold by Tommy Berry from gate 11, Chautauqua came from last with a paralysing burst to claim a dominant length and a quarter win in the 1200 metre sprint over progressive sprinter Fell Swoop and high class three year-old filly English, also by his sire Encosta de Lago.
“What can I say – he was outstanding,” Berry said.
“He was not comfortable in the ground but I just wanted to get him balanced and in the straight he just took off. Freak!”
Co-trainer Michael Hawkes was in awe of the grey speedster, revealing it was always the plan to have him perfect for this race.
“He just does extraordinary things. I was actually watching our other horse (Our Boy Malachi), he was in front and gave a good kick and I knew the grey was out the back, but he just does stupid things this horse, it’s ridiculous to reel off the sort of sectionals that he does,” said Hawkes.
“The older this horse has got the better he has got and that just doesn’t happen, it’s crazy really.
“We always aimed this horse at this race, we wanted to go back to back. Going into the race we thought we had two credible chances, even last start it was a credible run, just the weight caught up with him. Back to weight for age he is just phenomenal.”
Bred by the Throsby family, who raced his dam Lovely Jubly, Chautauqua was consigned to the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale where he passed in shy of his $400,000 reserve and now runs for a group of Hawkes stable clients including his breeders.
He has the overall record of 11 wins and eight placings from 21 starts with prizemoney topping $5.5 million and as a five year-old gelding has plenty of good racing left in him.
A half-brother to stakes-winner London Lolly, he is one of six winners from seven to race for Lovely Jubly, who won over $1.4 million in prizemoney highlighted by Group I wins in the QTC TJ Smith Stakes and Sires Produce Stakes as well as the Magic Millions 2YO Classic.
Chautauqua is one of 109 stakes-winners for champion sire Encosta de Lago and is not his first champion sprinter with that honour going to former world champion Sacred Kingdom, who dominated Hong Kong racing from 2007 – 2009.
Now in well-deserved retirement at Coolmore Australia, Encosta de Lago has been replaced on the Coolmore roster by his blue-blooded Group II winning son Rubick, who covered an impressive 213 mares last spring at a fee of $16,500.