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Champion sprinter Chautauqua is unlikely to defend his Lightning Stakes crown and is instead set to make his return at Caulfield.

Chautauqua won last year’s Group One Lightning Stakes at Flemington but this year his autumn campaign is scheduled to start in the Group Two Rubiton Stakes (1100m) on February 11, a week before the Lightning at Flemington.

Managing part-owner Rupert Legh said Chautauqua would then head to Newmarket Handicap at Flemington on March 11, providing he was not given too much weight, before heading to Sydney to bid for a third-straight TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick.

Legh said all going well the gelding could return to Hong Kong for a defence of the Chairman’s Sprint at Sha Tin before a possible tilt at Royal Ascot in June.

Chautauqua had his first public appearance since a failed two-run spring campaign when third in a Rosehill barrier trial on Tuesday.

“If he comes through the trial well, which all indications are he did, the plan is to go to the Rubiton with the Lightning a back up,” Legh told Melbourne radio station RSN927.

“We don’t really want to go 1000 metres again.”

Legh said indications are Chautauqua has recaptured his autumn form of last year after two unplaced runs in Group One races at Moonee Valley in the spring.

“He had a good spell, which he needed, and he’s put on about 40 kilos,” Legh said.

Dwayne Dunn made the trip to Sydney to partner Chautauqua in Tuesday’s trial and told 927 the world’s highest-rated sprinter was ready to show he is back to his best.

“He gave me the feel he’s back. His attitude is back how it was,” Dunn said.

“That should knock a few kilos off him and he should be ship-shape and ready to go.”

 
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