TJ Smith Stakes 2015: Chautauqua swoops to take sprint crown   Leave a comment

TJ Smith Stakes 2015: Chautauqua swoops to take sprint crown

Chautauqua wins TJ Smith Stakes

Chautauqua wins TJ Smith Stakes

THIS was going to take something special to win — and Chautauqua delivered.

In one of the most extraordinary sprint wins in years, Chautauqua turned imminent defeat into an improbable win in the Group 1 $2.5 million T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Monday.

When this writer asked jockey Tommy Berry how Chautauqua was able to come from last and win, he replied simply: “I was on the best horse!”

But Hall of Fame trainer John Hawkes admitted the “grey flash” had to defy a difficult run in transit, a track bias against backmarkers and a world-class sprinting field to win the prestigious sprint.

“It was an amazing win — they just don’t do that and win unless they are outstanding horses,’’ Hawkes said. “Chautauqua has been unlucky in two Group 1 races before and I thought luck was going to go against him today.

Chautauqua swoops on Lord Of The Sky to win the TJ Smith. Picture: Mark Evans

Chautauqua swoops on Lord Of The Sky to win the TJ Smith. Picture: Mark Evans Source: News Corp Australia

“But full credit to Tommy, he didn’t panic and gave the horse the chance by getting him to the outside. This horse has as amazing finishing sprint and he needed it to win today.’’

Chautauqua’s natural racing pattern is to get back in his races but Berry found himself in an awkward position on the rail at the rear of the field coming to the 600m. Berry realised he could not sneak up on the rail as the inside section was a “no-go” zone in the home straight.

The jockey gambled by easing Chautauqua back to a clear last, easing around the heels of Fast ‘N’ Rocking and getting to the centre of the track. What happened next was unforgettable.

Chautauqua ($4) unleashed a tremendous finishing burst to catch bolter Lord Of The Sky ($21) in the final bound to win by a nose, with Terravista ($2.60 favourite) two lengths away third.

Reigning Horse of the Year Lankan Rupee finished a disappointing ninth.

Co-trainer Michael Hawkes was almost lost for words after the race.

Tommy Berry celebrates after Chautauqua’s stunning win. Picture: Mark Evans

Tommy Berry celebrates after Chautauqua’s stunning win. Picture: Mark Evans Source: News Corp Australia

“We all know who the best sprinter in the world is now,’’ he said. “He is a super horse. He has been knocking on the door and has been unlucky in his last couple of runs. You just have to have a bit of luck on the right day.

“Superstar horses do super things and you just can’t deny what he has done. He has gone up another cog and he could be anything.”

Chautauqua probably has the best finishing sprint in Australian racing but Berry admitted he wasn’t sure he had got up in time to catch Lord Of The Sky.

“I didn’t know whether I’d won it or not so I went back to check the photo as quick as I could,’’ Berry said. “I was in an awkward spot coming to the corner. I just let him relax and come around them.

“It was a hard run race. I didn’t see much happening in front of me. So I just bided my time. It’s nice when they let down like that.

“He’s a super horse. How often do you get chances to ride sprinters like this for the first time?’’

John Hawkes said what makes Chautauqua’s win even more satisfying is the grey is not essentially a sprinter. “I think he will be better over a little further,’’ Hawkes said.

Hawkes said Chautauqua is likely to stay in training for the Group 1 $400,000 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 18.

Tommy Berry plants a kiss on Chautauqua’s co-trainer Michael Hawkes. Picture: Mark Evans

Tommy Berry plants a kiss on Chautauqua’s co-trainer Michael Hawkes. Picture: Mark Evans Source: News Corp Australia

Damien Oliver, rider of Lord Of The Sky, said he could sense Chautauqua coming hard late. “It was an awesome run,’’ Oliver said. “He loved that wet ground and almost caused a huge boilover.”

Terravista’s jockey Hugh Bowman gave the chestnut the perfect ride and could offer no excuses. “We were beaten fair and square, no excuses, but I’d like to think we didn’t see the best of him today,’’ Bowman said.

Originally published as Chautauqua swoops to take sprint crown

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Posted April 7, 2015 by belesprit09 in Uncategorized

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