That was the wash-up from the 12 barrier trials held Sunday in Sydney, which also saw the reappearance of Tab Everest (G1) favorite Trapeze Artist, Golden Slipper Stakes (G1) winner Estijaab, and a host of other high-class horses, including Alizee, Ace High, and Performer.
Winx closed off strongly in heat one over 1,000 meters (five furlongs) on the Rosehill course proper to be beaten 1 1/4 lengths by group 1 winner Alizee. Dual group 1 winner Ace High finished three-quarters of a length behind the winner in a performance that saw Winx finish third after being kept in behind other runners before working past the leaders after the finishing line.
Winx’s barrier trial followed an exhibition gallop at Randwick Saturday.
“She’s ready to go to the races now. She felt as good as she looked,” Bowman said. “I would suggest that’s as good as she has ever trialed. I was very impressed with her, I asked her to do a bit more than in her first trial. She was more relaxed and I think that was a direct result of going to the races and having that exhibition gallop on Saturday.”
On the back of two barrier trials, Winx is set to resume in the 1,400-meter (seven-furlong) Winx Warwick Stakes (G1) Aug. 18 at Randwick, a race she has won the past two years when it was known as the Warwick Stakes (G2).
“As we have seen all the way through this preparation, she is very well and, personally, I couldn’t be any happier with this morning’s trial and she is bang on target for two weeks’ time,” Waller said. “This preparation over 1,400 meters, it’s a group 1 race, so we’ve made sure she’s ready to go. It’s an important race for her, named in her honor, and we’ve said from the start we’ll take one race at a time.”
Chautauqua, who was entered for heat six over 900 meters (4 1/2 furlongs), did not jump with his nine rivals when the gates opened but Tommy Berry was able to coax the 8-year-old to leave the barriers and produce a sharp piece of work.
He officially completed the trial, which was won by the Gary Moore-trained Auchentoman. The future of the Hawkes Racing trainee, who refused to leave the barriers on multiple occasions last season and also this campaign, remains on tenterhooks.
“It was a bit different today as he wanted to jump,” Berry said. “He put all his weight forward and took a step and then sucked back underneath me. The barrier boys behind the gates said they thought he was going, then I tried to get him to go for a bit longer. Once I relaxed on him he was happy to go.”
Berry said he and the Hawkes team had reflected recently on the behavior of Chautauqua, who has won 13 races and prize money of
“The quirkiness that is stopping him from jumping makes him the horse that he is,” the jockey said. “He is an absolute freak on his day and that is because he is a quirky horse. It has worked with us for about six years but it is working against us now. He has been a great horse, whether he goes on or he doesn’t.”
Co-trainer Michael Hawkes was understandably frustrated by Chautauqua’s repeated refusals to jump and will be in discussions with the
owners of the gelding about what to do next with the six-time group 1 winner.
“We have worked on him as much as we can and done a lot with him to try and get him in the right frame of mind,” he said. “Tommy has been on his back and said he felt great going into the the trial. Albeit he did finish the trial, but he didn’t go when we wanted him to.
“It is one of those things that is not good for Australian racing. We need this horse and need him to get back. In saying that, his future is to be determined.” Berry added: “I just let him slide the last furlong mainly to just show the public. I feel bad for the Hawkes team because they have been copping a lot of flak for continuing with him, so I thought I’d show everyone why.
“He is in great form, in great shape, but he just has it in his mind that he doesn’t want to jump.” Part-owner Rupert Legh said from the U.S. yesterday that senior trainer John Hawkes would be left to make the final call on Chautauqua’s future. An embargo remains in place on Chautauqua which dictates the gelding must successfully complete two barrier trials in succession before being allowed to race again.
Racing New South Wales chief steward Marc Van Gestel says connections would need to make submissions as to why Chautauqua is allowed to be nominated for barrier trials if they choose to try and continue his racing career.