By Brad Gray
Chautauqua may be a rising seven-year-old but co-trainer Michael Hawkes believes the flashy grey looks as good as he ever has ahead of his spring campaign targeting The Everest.
“Physically, he is better. It’s more the maturity side that is starting to kick in. Hopefully he has another year or two of racing at the top level being so lightly raced,” Hawkes told Sky Sports Radio.
“He looks great and spelled very, very well. It’s amazing to think he could get better but he just spelled so well. He was big and burly and is just starting to trim up really nicely now.
“He is full of life, bouncing around and is like a two-year-old again so with a good spell like he has had, hopefully it will stand him in good stead for a race called The Everest.
“(The Everest) is great for racing and when I was overseas everybody was talking about it. I think it’s a great incentive and creates so much interest both home and abroad. It’s something we’re looking forward to given we’ve got a genuine contender.”
The Hawkes stable, notorious for their patience, will take their time preparing the evergreen sprinter and haven’t yet confirmed a kick-off point although the $200,000 Group Two The Shorts (September 16) is among the options.
“He has had a few nice gallops and looks fantastic. We’re in no rush and still haven’t decided whether we start here or in Melbourne but from there he’ll head towards the Premiere (September 30) and then into The Everest,” said Hawkes.
“He is still a while off trialling. We’re just building him up nice and slow because he is older. We’ve got the goal and that’s The Everest first and foremost, and we’ve always said, that but on the back of The Everest we’re also eyeing off a fourth TJ Smith.”
Meanwhile, Chauffeur, who now finds himself trained by Team Hawkes having previously been with Gerald Ryan, could also find himself lining up in October’s rich $10 million sprint . Slot holder Damion Flower, who operates under the Jadeskye Racing banner, owns the Snitzel colt.
According to Hawkes, Chauffeur will trial shortly before stepping out first-up in the $125,000 Group Three San Domenico Stakes (August 26).
“He is athletic sort of horse but what distance he’ll get to I’m not really sure. He is on a Golden Rose path but what happens after that is up to him. In his races he really wanted to attack the line and he is showing that in his track work at home,” Hawkes said.
“He is a nice addition to the stable and a lovely relaxed colt. He spelled well and is ticking over beautifully. At this stage he’ll trial next week.”