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THE SUNSHINE COAST NEWSPAPER COLUMN: CHAUTAUQUA HAS TAKEN HIS STAND

By Graham Potter | Friday, August 10, 2018

Graham Potter writes a weekly column for the Sunshine Coast daily. Due to demand from those having trouble accessing the paper these columns are now also published on HRO courtesy of the Sunshine Coast daily.

The Chautauqua saga should have run its course long before now.

The former superstar’s repeated refusal to leave the barriers, to jump on terms with the field in an increasing number of jump outs and barrier trials, is becoming something of a soap opera and it is fair to question why it is allowed to continue.

That question is seemingly not a about the horse’s physical well-being. Every inch of the horse has been vetted and he seems well within himself so tick that box. Mentally, well, there certainly is something going on there … but, again, the hard fact is it not about that, although every racing enthusiast wishes connections well with the horse on both of those fronts.

So, what is it all about?

It is about racing manners … and, whichever way you look at it, Chautauqua is just not coming to that party at this time.

The horse currently has an embargo placed beside its name whereby it has to successfully complete two barrier trail / jump out routines. In the last six months Chautauqua has failed that test multiple times begging the question, just how far can you stretch the rules on sentiment alone … because there is arguably a lack of any other evidence to support the cause.

Following Chautauqua’s latest ‘failure to launch’ on Tuesday, NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel stated that, ‘if their (Chautauqua’s connections) intention is to move forward (and not retire the horse) we would require some submission from them why they say we should give the horse another opportunity to trial.’

Loosely translated, that statement would seem to suggest that, even if those submissions are convincing, Chautauqua might soon be facing his last chance before a permanent embargo is imposed.

The Hawkes stable have reportedly said, “It is not really good for Australian racing. We need this horse.” A co-owner has said, “He gives us every indication he wants to be a racehorse.”

That is very much an in-house view which some would argue is pretty wide of the mark.

There is an old, well-oiled, sometimes overused saying used by so many trainers of … ‘we’ll let the horse tell us how he is feeling?’

Hopefully that is not just a throw-away line.

The stable is clearly, understandably frustrated with Chautauqua’s contrasting behaviour back home and when under public scrutiny, but is it really a case of mixed messages or does one message override them all?

Chautauqua has had a magnificent career being a five-time Group 1 winner, including on the international stage, with stake earnings of just under $8 million.

He owes his connections nothing.

The question now is, what do his connections owe him?

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Chautauqua (Tommy Berry) returns to scale after storming home to win the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) – the final leg of Hong Kong Speed Series this season and the 4th leg of the 2016 Global Sprint Challenge - at Sha Tin on May 1, 2016, which was a major highlight of a fantastic career

Photo: Courtesy Hong Kong Jockey Club
Chautauqua (Tommy Berry) returns to scale after storming home to win the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) – the final leg of Hong Kong Speed Series this season and the 4th leg of the 2016 Global Sprint Challenge - at Sha Tin on May 1, 2016, which was a major highlight of a fantastic career

Photo: Courtesy Hong Kong Jockey Club
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