Chautauqua storms home in Chairman’s Sprint Prize

There are now no arguments; Chautauqua is definitely the best sprinter on the planet.

Official ratings had him positioned at the top of the tree and the powerful grey justified the numbers with a brilliant display to win the Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Taking on Hong Kong’s best on their home turf, Chautauqua showed the world what an amazing horse he is.

The Team Hawkes trained galloper settled back last in his customary role at the tail of the field.

He had it all to do at the top of the straight but once again mowed down his rivals, surging to the front in the final strides to defeat Lucky Bubbles with Strathmore finishing third.

His victory was the first at Group 1 level for an Australian-trained horse in Hong Kong.

Falvelon won back-to-back International sprints in Hong Kong in 2000-2001 but they weren’t recognised as Group 1 events at the time.

For trainer John Hawkes, a man who has now won 110 Group 1 races and prepared champions such as Lonhro and Octagonal, this is his greatest achievement.

“It doesn’t get any better than this, to come here on the international stage with the boys and all the family, this is as good as it gets,” Hawkes said.

“He is a special horse, we’ve seen him do that at home on a number of occasions but that is something else.”

Tommy Berry has won two Golden Slippers and numerous feature races in Hong Kong, but standing on the podium and receiving the trophy for the Chairman’s Sprint Prize while the Australian national anthem was playing is now his biggest moment.

“This is an amazing feeling to represent the country and be a part of such a special horse,” Berry said.

“I’ve had some big moment in my riding career but I’d have to say this is the best.”

Tough Buff Does it Again

Superstar sprinter Buffering could embark on an international campaign to Dubai and England but first he will return home and be set for Australia’s first ever $10 million raceday in January.

The son of Mossman will head to the Magic Millions raceday on January 9 after banking another $600,000 for connectios today with a sixth Group One success in the Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot in Perth.

The win was the second Winterbottom for Buffering after he won the race two years ago. His sizzling time this time around also broke Ortensia’s race record for Western Australia’s feature sprint.

Trainer Rob Heathcote said the eight-year-old was in career best form and provided he kept racing so well he could see no reason why a trip overseas would be on the cards following January’s feature in what would be his first ever start at the Gold Coast.

“Since I got over earlier in the week he’s just ticked every box,” Heathcote said. “He’d settled in just so well.”

Heathcote recently had a call from racing officials in Dubai with an invitation to attend their lucrative World Cup Carnival and a tilt at their feature sprint.

“It is something I hadn’t even told some of the owners,” he said. “The world is Buff’s oyster. He’s eight years old – he’s won two Group Ones this prep.”

“We’ll go home now. He floats home on Monday. There’s a Magic Millions race in early January that he’s going to be damned hard to beat.”

“If he comes through that (the Gold Coast) in good order and he’s a good traveller I’d love to go over and shake hands with the Sheikh.”

Buffering was bred by well known Queensland thoroughbred administrator Kevin Dixon and sold through the draft of his Racetree operation at the 2009 Magic Millions Gold Coast March Yearling Sale.

It was at that sale that Heathcote’s friend and long-time bloodstock agent Paul Willetts found the son of Mossman and made sure he would join the Heathcote stable. His $22,000 bid at the Gold Coast was successful and what a buy he’s turned out to be!

With 18 wins and 17 placings from 50 starts Buffering has earned his lucky connections a whopping $5,837,366.

By Mossman, the same sire as Group One winners Mossfun, Ofcourseican and Plucky Belle, Buffering is one of four winners for the 100 per cent winner producer Action Annie.

A daughter of Anabaa, Action Annie was a winner in Sydney over 1200 metres. She is a half sister to the stakes performers Don’t Go Crazy and Instant Strike. Further back its the same family as international Group One winners Relaxed Gesture and Martha Stevens.

Waller Train Rolls On

Inglis Premier graduate Good Project made his mark among elite company in his Group 1 debut, taking out the WATC Railway Stakes over 1600m in dominant style, marking the 10th Group 1 victory of the season for his trainer Chris Waller.

Good Project (Not A Single Doubt x Euchre) jumped straight to the front of the field and led the entire way to hit the line strongly ahead of Messene and Balmont Girl, under the guidance of Craig Williams.

“He is now a Group 1 winner and it gives me a great thrill to come over to Perth and win one of their biggest races,” said Williams.

Foreperson for Chris Waller Racing Justine Hales expressed the stable’s delight with the four-year-old’s performance.

“He is a lovely colt and he is a lovely horse to deal with,” said Hales.

“Everything he does he just takes in his stride and that is what has helped him,” Hales said.

Good Project is owned and raced by Mr C C Lai, who was delivered another Group 1 success with the Chris Waller-trained Delectation in the Darley Classic at Flemington on Emirates Stakes Day earlier this season.

Bred by Richard Pietrykowski, Good Project was a $300,000 purchase at the 2013 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale from the draft of Mike O’Donnell’s Fairhill Farm.

“He was an outstanding yearling that had great presence. He always had the right attributes to be a Group 1 horse, and he’s proven that today,” said O’Donnell.

McDonald and Weir share Spring Premierships spoils

Jockey James McDonald and trainer Darren Weir capped off a Carnival to remember on Sunday morning when crowned the Premier Spring Jockey and Trainer of the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival Premierships.

The pair continued their Carnival dominance throughout yesterday’s 12th and final Premiership round at William Hill Park (Sandown), with McDonald again illustrating why he’s considered one of Australia’s most prodigious riding talents with a masterful victory aboard Who Shot Thebarman in the day’s feature – the $300,000 Zipping Classic (2400m).

Trainer Darren Weir also continued his rich vein of Spring Racing Carnival form with yet another feature win, this time with consistent colt Mahuta in the $250,000 Sandown Guineas (1600m) – his 16th victory of the Premierships period.

Now in its second year, the Spring Racing Carnival Premierships promote and celebrate excellence at the elite level and have rewarded the Carnival’s leading jockeys and trainers – along with their charity of choice – with more than $135,000 in charitable donations and prizemoney in 2015.

Points were awarded to the first three placegetters in each race across 12 premier racedays between September and November, with bonus points on offer in the state’s elite Group 1 races headlined by the Emirates Melbourne Cup, BMW Caulfield Cup and William Hill Cox Plate.

Whilst a $25,000 bonus proved an incentive for the standout performers in the Premier Spring Jockey and Trainer titles, the Spring Racing Carnival Premierships also afforded an opportunity for the Victorian racing industry to support those in need.

Darren Weir secured a $25,000 donation for his nominated charity partner, Down Syndrome Victoria, while McDonald earned a cheque for the same amount to children’s charity, Variety.

As the winner of the Premier Young Gun Jockey title for riders aged 26 and under on 31 December, 2015, McDonald also secured Variety a second donation of $5,000 – taking their donation total to $30,000.

McDonald, 23, said the lucrative Premiership rewards had provided an extra dimension to the rivalry between riders on feature racedays.

“It’s been an honour to represent Variety in the Spring Premierships and to win, well, that was an added bonus,” McDonald said.

“There certainly has been a lot of rivalry in the jockeys’ rooms this Carnival so I’m stoked to have finished on top.”

Premier Spring Trainer Darren Weir said it was a great thrill that his Premierships success was able to support a cause close to his heart.

“It’s a bit of a surprise,” Weir said.

“We were miles behind David Hayes and Tom Dabernig at one stage but the week we had a great week at Flemington helped greatly.

“To be able to win the Premierships and know that it is helping out a charity like Down Syndrome Victoria is a real thrill.”

The final premiership standings also mean Weir has won a friendly side-bet with Hayes, with the latter now required to muck out boxes at Weir’s stables for an hour.

“I made the bet but I know I’ve got a fit junior partner,” Hayes quipped.

Racing Victoria’s Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter, congratulated this year’s Spring Racing Carnival Premiership winners and said the unique competition provided an enthralling narrative throughout spring.

“I’d like to congratulate James McDonald and Darren Weir on their Spring Racing Carnival Premierships success – a victory that reflects their outstanding efforts across Victoria’s premier racing period,” Carpenter said.

“It was terrific to see the Premierships so positively embraced by the jockeys and trainers competing on the big stage each week, and this provided an exciting sub-plot for racing fans to follow throughout the Spring Racing Carnival.

“The Premierships also give the Victorian racing industry an opportunity to support a number of extremely worthy charities and provide exposure to the fantastic work they are doing.

“James McDonald and Darren Weir have been outstanding ambassadors for their charities this Spring Racing Carnival and it was been enormously rewarding to see their hard work also benefit such worthwhile causes.”

The final standings in the Spring Racing Carnival Premierships classifications were as follows;

Premier Spring Trainer
1 Darren Weir (Down Syndrome Victoria) 83.5 points
2 David Hayes/Tom Dabernig (Aussie Helpers) 80
3 Chris Waller (Womens’ Cancer Foundation) 66

Premier Spring Jockey
1 James McDonald (Variety) 81.5 points
2 Craig Williams (Variety) 57
3 Dwayne Dunn (Womens’ Cancer Foundation) 55.5

Premier Young Gun Jockey
1 James McDonald (Variety) 81.5 points
2 Damian Lane (Foodbank Victoria) 20.5
3 Chris Parnham (Foodbank Victoria) 16

Rising Star Mahuta in Guineas Romp

Mahuta continued his meteoric rise when he strolled to his fourth straight win in Saturday’s Group Two Sandown Guineas (1600m).

Prepared by the carnival’s leading trainer Darren Weir, Mahuta over came a three wide trip to win the day’s feature in emphatic style.

Highly regarded kiwi Dal Cielo was second home, but was never a winning threat for Mahuta who in six weeks has gone from a maiden to a three time stakes winner.

“He’s an improving type horse,” Weir said. “He always showed promise from day one.”

“He’s just one of those horses that got into a rhythm, a purple patch, and he just keeps improving.”

“Today he showed a real turn of foot when he straightened. He went really well today, I was really happy with him.”

Mahuta, a son of Danehill’s Golden Slipper winning son Flying Spur, was purchased by Weir for $35,000 from the draft of Redbank North at the 2014 Magic Millions Adelaide Yearling Sale at Morphettville.

Earlier sold by Glastonbury Farms at the 2013 Magic Millions National Weanling Sale, Mahuta is one of three winners for the 100 per cent winner producer Vahine.

An unraced Zabeel three quarter sister to Group One winner Isolda, Vahine is also the dam of Anlon, a Magic Millions graduate who won seven races including a Chester Manifold Stakes and earned over $285,000.

Mahuta rounds out his first racing preparation with four wins and a second from six starts with earnings of over $362,000.