Dwayne Dunn aboard Chautauqua. Photo: Vince Caligiuri/Getty ImagesThe Racing Victoria handicapping department have given outstanding sprinter Chautauqua a weight in Saturday week’s $1.25 million Newmarket Handicap that could well help reignite the horse’s profile as the world’s finest sprinter.
If connections choose to start Chautauqua in ‘s most revered sprinting handicap event, with his weight of 58 kilograms, it would be the grey’s third attempt at winning the 1200m group 1 sprint.
A decision on the sprinter’s future will be determined in the next 24 hours as the stable are also weighing up their options which include a start in Saturday’s group 1 Canterbury Stakes at weight-for-age at Randwick.
Managing part-owner Rupert Legh said that he expected a final decision some time on Tuesday after they digest the handicapper’s allotment of 58kg to Chautauqua.
Lee said that he felt the 58kg the horse was given was “fair” as it was the same weight the horse carried into third place last year, but admitted that they were tempted at a Canterbury Stakes start.
It would mean that if Chautauqua was to miss the Newmarket Handicap, he could possibly be pitted against the all-conquering Winx in the George Ryder Stakes in three weeks’ time.
A Newmarket victory has eluded Chautauqua who has run second and third in past races and would become only the fourth horse in the past 50 years to win the race carrying 58kg.
If Chautauqua can lump 58kg to victory in the group 1 sprint he joins the likes of Hay List, Black Caviar and Shaftesbury Avenue who are the only three horses in Newmarket history to win with such an impost.
Lightning Stakes winner Terravista will carry 56.5kg in the race but if Chautauqua does go to Sydney all weights will be raised 0.5kg as the Newmarket scale demands a minimum 57kg top weight.
One of the unlucky gallopers in the Lightning Stakes, Spieth, will carry 55kg, a 1.5kg advantage over Terravista from the Lightning Stakes.
RVL handicapper David Hagen maintained that Chautauqua had earned its place at the top of the weights considering his amazing wins on the Hong Kong Chairman’s Sprint, the TJ Smith Stakes and the 2016 Lightning Stakes.
“Chautauqua’s 2016 ranking as the world’s best sprinter naturally earns him his place at the top of the weights in a race that looks to be highly competitive with nine individual group 1 winners among the entries,” Hagen said.
“His (Chautauqua’s) record at the 1200m trip is just exceptional having won four group 1 races at the distance and he has never missed a place in eight starts down the Flemington straight. A repeat of any of his three group 1 wins last year would see him be the horse to beat again with a top weight of 58kg.”
And last year’s Newmarket Handicap winner The Quarterback will go into the race fresh after missing a start in the Lightning Stakes last month.
The Quarterback trialled convincingly on Monday at Cranbourne with the sprinter’s barrier certificate being renewed after he became cast in the stalls minutes prior to the Lightning Stakes.
The Quarterback will have to become the first horse since 1917 to win one of ‘s most famous sprint races first up from a spell.
Top line three-year-old Flying Artie, Extreme Choice and Star Turn make up an extremely smart group of young sprinters that could emulate Brazen Beau’s victory in 2015.
While Craig Williams will ride Star Turn it is expected that world-class jockey Joao Moreira will be in Melbourne to take the mount on Flying Artie.
“Three-year-old’s boast an imposing record in the Newmarket Handicap, having won nine of the last 20 editions of the race and this year’s crop looks to be up to the benchmark of recent years,” Hagen said.