'Chautauqua is the Winx of sprinters'
MICHAEL Hawkes, bloodied and in tears, said simply: "Chautauqua is the Winx of sprinters!"
There could be no greater compliment. As 20,573 willed him home, Chautauqua came from last to win a third successive Group 1 $2.5 million Darley TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Chautauqua had defied again but this will surely go down as his greatest win.
The grey flash was supposedly past his past and no longer the horse that was rated the world's best sprinter the last two years.
Someone forgot to tell Chautauqua.
His effort to come from last, overcome a track bias and mow down the best sprinters in training was simply unforgettable.
Hawkes, who co-trains Chautauqua with his brother Wayne and their father, Hall of Famer John, had opened a small wound in his face embracing his wife Claire moments as their champion sprinter came from nowhere to win.
"I'm in tears, this is raw emotion," Hawkes said. "Before the race, we thought he couldn't win with the track bias but what can we say now.
"There is a pretty special bloke (John Hawkes) sitting at home on the couch and that was more about him than what you would actually know.
"He said to tell Tommy (Berry) stay near the fence, stay near the fence, cut up the inside, don't come to the outside.
"He said if you are going to win this race you are going to win it late - he was right again."
Chautauqua ($5.50) is famous for his powerful finishing bursts but this was something else. He was a clear last until well into the straight but Berry did as he was told, cut the corner then got to the outside and unleashed an astonishing burst to run down English ($12) to win by a short head with Fell Swoop ($21) just over a length away third.
This was the same trifecta as the TJ Smith last year, although the minor placings were reversed.
"Chautauqua's incredible isn't he? I said to the doubters the whole way along, don't worry about it, the Hawkes Team train him. They are freaks at what they do," Berry said.
"I came up underneath them as I couldn't come around them and win. Gee, once he got through he was so good. I've just got to thank the Hawkes Team.
"We decided to plan our run to head towards the Doncaster, but he didn't run it, he got beaten by the best horse in the world, Winx, in the Ryder - but today he showed why he is the best sprinter in the world."
John Hawkes decided to stay home to watch day one of The Championships, while part-owners Rupert Legh and Greg Ingham were also absent as both were recovering from minor operations last week but it is fair to say all three men will have enjoyed the moment.
Chautauqua scored his sixth Group 1 win, became the first horse to win three times at The Championships, the first to win three TJ Smith Stakes, and the first sprinter to break the $8 million prizemoney barrier, breaking the sprinters' stakes record previously held by Black Caviar at $7.95 million.
Hawkes said it is likely Chautauqua will be spelled now and set for the $10 million The Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick on October 14.
"The horse has been fantastic, he's a rock star and owns the 1200m at Randwick," Hawkes said. "He is the Winx of sprinters."
Blake Shinn, rider of English, thought he had the Group 1 sprint in his keeping when the mare sprinted past Fell Swoop.
"You can never go the early crow when Chautauqua is in the race," Shinn said.
"I wasn't going to do that today but I really felt all over a winner, all bar the post. Then out of nowhere the big grey came and got me. It was a terrific effort from my mare."