Chautauqua has taken an all-important step towards being reinstated to race and in more encouraging news jockey Tommy Berry believes the champion sprinter feels as good as ever.
The horse passed the first of two barrier tests in his bid to be cleared to race, jumping cleanly from the gates in a jump-out at Flemington on Friday morning before sprinting past his rivals at the finish.
After failing to jump from the barriers on four occasions earlier this year in trials, Chautauqua was ordered to successfully trial twice before he is allowed to race again.
Berry, and the rest of the gelding’s connections, were relieved to see the $8.8 million earner jump with the field on Friday.
“He’s his usual quirky self,” Berry said.
“He was very good in the barriers. He was actually bouncing around in there which is usually what he’s like.
“And he probably jumped the quickest he’s ever jumped before I had to grab him and pull him back a bit at the start to get him to settle.”
Berry has won five Group One races on Chautauqua and made a special trip back from Hong Kong for Friday’s hit-out as connections left no stone unturned to ensure the sprinter did what was required.
Chautauqua still needs to pass another barrier test in a scheduled trial in Sydney on July 23.
“We’re not out of the woods just yet but we’re in a much better position than we were 20 minutes ago,” co-trainer Wayne Hawkes said.
The Missile Stakes on August 4 is the likely return for Chautauqua if he gets through his next trial and Berry believes the gelding can be a force to be reckoned with again this spring, with The Everest a target.
“That was the best part about it,” Berry said.
“I was just happy to see him jump but then to trial as well as he did, he’s as good as he’s ever felt.
“He doesn’t feel like a rising eight-year-old. He feels like Chautauqua.”
Hawkes said Chautauqua owed them nothing but said they would not have pressed on with him if they were not confident he was going to do it.
“I was actually hoping he would do it for himself,” Hawkes said.
“We need horses like him. We need horses like Winx. These are great crowd pullers. Owners want racehorses like this and we want to train them and the public want to see them.
“I know he’s seven and about to turn eight but he’s only lightly raced. It will be some show if he can end up in the Everest and do something special there.”
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