One of Australia’s top sprinters, Chautauqua, has made a winning return to racing at Moonee Valley.
Having his first start since the autumn, Chautauqua reeled off impressive sectional times in taking out the Group Two McEwen Stakes (1000m) on Saturday.
Ridden by Dwayne Dunn and sent out favourite, Chautauqua ($2.60) charged over the top of rivals to record a 1-1/2 length win from Flamberge ($5.50) with Furnaces ($5.50) 1-1/4 lengths away third.
Dunn reported Chautauqua had began well but got into scrimmage soon after settling.
But the jockey was always confident despite Chautauqua giving away a big start.
“He got bashed by another horse and that put me back a little further than I wanted to be,” Dunn said.
“I was able to cruise up as I liked and I was close enough turning in that I knew he’d pick them off.”
Dunn said Chautauqua was entering unfamiliar territory in his first-up run, having never raced at Moonee Valley or at 1000m.
“His maturity is going ahead in leaps and bounds,” Dunn said.
“Little things that he let himself down with before, he’s not doing that anymore.”
Co-trainer Wayne Hawkes said there was plenty of improvement still to come from the gelding, but wouldn’t confirm a spring campaign.
He said the Moir Stakes, which in previous years had been contested over 1200m but was over 1000m this year, was unlikely.
“He’s still a bit woolly in the coat like most horses are but he’s very relaxed and has been very much push-button in the last 12 months. He makes us look good,” Hawkes said.