Team Hawkes are pleased with the building condition of champion sprinter Chautauqua, but admit the Group 1 winner may be vulnerable first-up and over the distance in Saturday’s 2015 McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley.
Chautauqua returned in autumn in typically brilliant form; winning the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) first-up and running second to Brazen Beau in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) before posting a well-earned, maiden win at the highest level in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) on Day 1 of The Championships.
Though confident the talented son of Encosta De Lago will lay a great account for himself through the 2015 Spring Carnival, co-trainer Wayne Hawkes conceded the distance of the McEwen Stakes may cause a few problems for the known backmarker first-up.
“He’s never been over 1000, he’s never raced at Moonee Valley and he’s drawn a terrible gate so he’s got a few question marks to overcome,” Hawkes told Racing Victoria.
“Had he drawn a better barrier he’d be able to sit three lengths closer in the run.
“It’s the difference between winning and losing drawing bad barriers, but the horse is great.”
Chautauqua was a standout for Team Hawkes through the 2014 edition of the Spring Carnival; jogging home to win each of the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) and Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) before running a close second in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m).
Team Hawkes have also confirmed three-year-old Headwater in the 2015 McEwen Stakes final field, and are disappointed neither of their horses fared well in Wednesday’s barrier draw.
“It’s disappointing that both horses have drawn where they have,” he said.
“Headwater is going very well but it’s going to make things very tough for him from that barrier (13).”
Ladbrokes.com.au is currently offering the best 2015 McEwen Stakes odds, for which Chautauqua remains outright $2.20 favourite, while Headwater can be taken at a particularly generous quote of $21.
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