Chautauqua's connections have snubbed an approach from “the real horse whisperer” Monty Roberts, instead placing all of their faith in Hall of Fame trainer John Hawkes to save the career of the troublesome sprinter before a critical barrier trial at Rosehill on August 7.
In an exclusive interview with Fairfax Media last week, Roberts, the legendary 83-year-old California horseman, said he could fix the popular grey’s bizarre habit of refusing to leave the barriers.
The rising eight-year-old's refusal to leave the gates not only threatens to end his career but also a final tilt at the $13 million The Everest (1200m) at Randwick in October 13.
Chautauqua’s managing owner, Rupert Legh, told Fairfax Media late last week that Roberts had been approached about coming to Australia to help the three-time TJ Smith Stakes winner, which has amassed almost $9 million in prizemoney.
The move was on. All that was needed was approval from Team Hawkes.
By Monday morning, however, things had dramatically changed. Legh said Roberts would not be engaged, with Chautauqua bypassing a barrier trial in Melbourne on Friday in preference of another likely trial at Rosehill next Tuesday.
“If John wants to use Monty, it’s his decision, it’s not up to us,” Legh said. “I have respect for John. He’s the captain-coach and he will make that call. He won’t be influenced and I won’t be getting involved and neither will the other owners. We’ve always had confidence in John to make the right call.
“John was well aware of Monty before the media got hold of it. We all were. John knows more about horses than me, and he knows enough about Monty Roberts. We’ve got the confidence and respect in John that it’s in his hands. At the moment, John is more than happy with what he’s doing with Chautauqua and he’s trying a few things. The signs are encouraging but we won’t know until he trials successfully. Rather than go to Melbourne on Friday, we will chance our arm at Rosehill.
“If we don’t have success between now and next week, using Monty may be something he will consider but at the end of the day we’ve got plenty of time between now and the Everest if we want to go down that path.”
Racing NSW stewards might think differently.
When Chautauqua dug his toes in at a barrier trial at Rosehill last week, stewards told Team Hawkes the horse would need to complete a “series of trials” before he would be allowed to race again.
It’s understood stewards may stop the horse from starting again if he fails to jump in next week’s barrier trial.
Legh said Hawkes had told him he had made plenty of progress with Chautauqua in the past week.
“John is trying to do things at the moment that are all positive,” he said. “He’s trying to do a few different things. John’s not silly, either. If he thinks Monty can help, he will make that call.”
Roberts said last week: “If they meet my demands, I will be there as soon as possible. This kind of thing that’s happened to Chautauqua is not uncommon at all. I know why, and I know how to fix it. I’ll do it in a week. I’ve done it with Pakistan Star in Hong Kong and I can do it with him."
Article courtesy of Fairfax Digital and The Brisbane Times