By Ray Hickson
Redzel won the battle. Chautauqua served notice that the war for the Everest is far from over.
That’s the wrap as The Shorts (1100m), dubbed the ‘mini-Everest’, fell to the most recent confirmed Everest starter but the long time favourite’s co-trainer Michael Hawkes couldn’t hold back his smile.
Chautauqua was still last at the 150m of the Group 2 sprint but loomed late like a great white to finish 2.2 lengths from Redzel in seventh place.
“He’s come back great, 1100m was always going to be too short but he’s hit the line solidly,’’ Hawkes said.
“That was all I was after.’’
According to Punter’s Intel data, the three-time TJ Smith Stakes winner easily reeled off the fastest 200m splits of 10.58 (400m-200m) and 10.84 (200m-finish) with a race best last 600m of 32.09.
While the Hawkes camp is satisfied Chautauqua is on target for the $10 million Everest (1200m) on October 14, Redzel confirmed he’s a serious contender as he broke the 1100m track record.
Trainer Peter Snowden said Redzel will not be seen again until the Everest, satisfied a month between runs will be perfect for one of Australia’s most improved sprinters.
“He has come a long way this bloke,’’ Snowden said.
“It has all been about what he has done himself. He has learned how to race properly. He is very, very genuine. He never makes a mistake.
“He races on pace, on wet tracks, dry tracks, carries weight well, he’s just the real deal now.”
Kerrin McEvoy has the Everest ride on Redzel but jockey Hugh Bowman, fresh from partnering Winx to her 20th straight win, made no secret that he’d love to have next call on riding Redzel.
“In my opinion he is a genuine Everest hopeful this horse,’’ Bowman said.
“They have worked out exactly how he likes to race, he can set a good pace as you saw today and he can sustain a fight.’’
The two other Everest runners, English and Fell Swoop, lost no admirers as they finished fourth and sixth respectively.
English raced wide throughout while jockey Tye Angland said Fell Swoop will improve greatly with the run under his belt as he had a ‘’decent blow’’ after the race.
It’s likely Chautauqua, English and Fell Swoop will meet again in the Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) on September 30.