Last chance for Chautauqua to jump-start career
A TAILOR-MADE trial for barrier rogue Chautauqua at Rosehill on Saturday looms as the last roll of the dice for racing's great enigma.
In most sports the special ones get special treatment and Chautauqua, one of the greatest sprinters of his generation with five Group 1 wins and nearly $9 million in prizemoney, is indeed special.
After just one successful attempt to get the eight-year-old gelding to leave the barriers in seven official trials since his last race start at Flemington last November most thought his stellar career was done.
But after spending time with a "well-respected thoroughbred behaviourist", and four successful private jump-outs at Rosehill since he last stayed in the gates on August 7, Racing NSW stewards have decided to give the grey flash one last, special chance.
Between races three and four at Rosehill on Saturday, against seven other starters to be hand-picked by Racing NSW, Chautauqua has to jump or he'll be banned from racing permanently.
With the $13 million The Everest in October still very much in the sight of Chautauqua's owners they and the Hawkes training team went to some lengths to get the last chance approved.
They had to, because after the most recent failure, when Chautauqua waited until his fellow starters were 500m down the track before stepping out, stewards declared connections had to prove why he should get another go.
On three different tracks, under three different jockeys, Chautauqua had said "no". Veterinary problems were ruled out, and it was decided it's all in his head.
So after positive sessions with the equine behaviourist, Team Hawkes conducted four non-official jump outs, filmed them, sent the videos to stewards and the final one on Tuesday was watched by Australian Turf Club starter Dale Jeffs.
That run of successes, after so many public failures, moved racing officials to accept the application for Saturday's special trial, the first of two required starts.
In a statement on Tuesday, stewards made it clear that a failure to jump this time, under what will be race day conditions, will mean the end.
"Chautauqua be required to barrier trial to the satisfaction of the Stewards in two consecutive official barrier trials prior to being given permission to race again," the statement said.
"Should the gelding refuse to jump from the barriers in any of those official barrier trials, then Racing NSW Stewards would refuse the nominations of the gelding from barrier trials and races under the provisions of AR50."
That rule of racing allows stewards to refuse nominations "without giving any reason for so doing".
Hopes are high in the Hawkes camp that the dream is not over. On Monday night Wayne Hawkes told racing.com that Chautauqua was "flying out of the gates" in the four jump outs, with jockey Tommy Berry aboard.
Berry will ride again on Saturday, but Chautauqua will have the final say on where he goes.