Co-trainer Wayne Hawkes is confident Chautauqua is back to his best after a lacklustre spring campaign.
But the hulking grey doesn’t have to win Saturday’s Rubiton Stakes at Caulfield to convince Hawkes he has returned to form.
“Of course we want to win,” Hawkes said.
“Every time you see this horse he keeps getting bigger and stronger.
“Hopefully that’s the sign of good things and Saturday will tell the tale.
“It’s not like he has to win, just so long as he’s hitting the line at a cracking pace.”
Chautauqua arrived at the Flemington stables of Hawkes Racing from Sydney on Wednesday.
Hawkes says the gelding looks a happier horse than the one that was in Melbourne during the spring.
After winning a second TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick last autumn, Chautauqua then won in Hong Kong in May.
He returned for a spring campaign that was aborted after two unplaced runs at Moonee Valley, the first time Chautauqua had finished out of the money since his three-year-old days.
Hawkes said Chautauqua didn’t have a long enough spell after Hong Kong which the stable thinks contributed to his spring performances.
“In hindsight people say we shouldn’t have run him over the spring but we spoke about it eight weeks ago and we wouldn’t have changed anything,” Hawkes said.
“He’s entitled to have a bad prep and if he bounces back on Saturday you can put it down to him having a gut-buster in Hong Kong.”
Ultimate plans with Chautauqua are for a third straight TJ Smith during The Championships at Randwick but where the gelding heads after Saturday will be determined by how he performs in the Rubiton.
Hawkes said the Newmarket Handicap on March 11 is a consideration.
“He’s won the Lightning Stakes but not a Group One over 1200 metres up the straight,” Hawkes said.
“He’s been unlucky a couple of times so it would be good to put one of those on his record if he happened to run in the Newmarket.
“That is our preferred option but that all depends on what sort of weight he gets.”