Three-time TJ Smith Stakes winner Chautauqua may be growing older and greyer but he still has the will to win, trainer Michael Hawkes says.
The seven-year-old, who completed his final serious gallop around Rosehill on Tuesday morning, is one of 12 contenders in the $10 million Everest (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
“With the big money on offer there’s been a lot of horses that have actually been aimed for this race, us included,” Hawkes said.
“It’s a quality field. It’s got a lot of depth to it and it’s probably the best sprinters in Australia at this point in time.”
In previous years, Chautauqua spent his spring preparation in Melbourne but he stayed in Sydney ahead of the Everest this season, running seventh and sixth respectively in the Shorts and Premiere Stakes last month.
“He’s gotten a bit older, there’s certainly no doubt about that,” Hawkes said.
“He’s probably really racing a little bit more relaxed which is a good thing. But he’s still got that killer instinct. He’s still got that will. His sectionals are telling you that. His times are telling you that.”
Hawkes said the horse had a track record of doing the “unthinkable” such as claiming his third TJ Smith Stakes in April and coming from last to first to win the Chairman’s Sprint over 1200m at Sha Tin in Hong Kong last year.
“Everything just went so wrong and it turned out so right,” he said.
“I know during the run of the TJ there were stages where people just shook their heads and thought ‘this horse can’t possibly win’ but that’s what makes him.
“I think he’s on the same sort of path. He’s a horse you can never underestimate and you can never write off.”
Chautauqua’s show-stopping final 200m has helped him win 13 of 30 career starts including six at Group One level.
“Whether it’s Usain Bolt or a swimmer. Whether it be a Winx for that matter, you look at these athletes – because that’s what he is – and the last 200 metres is where it counts,” Hawkes said.
“His last 200 is phenomenal. It always has been and it probably always will be.”
“He really wants to hit the line and attack the line. He certainly still wants to be there because he’s doing that.”
Chautauqua will start from barrier five and is one of the favourites at $5.50.