When you own Chautauqua, the top-rated sprinter in the world, AU$600,000 to run for AU$5.8 million on home turf seemed a good bet to GPI Racing's Greg Ingham.
From one of Australia's most famous racing families, Ingham knew every slotholder would want the six-time group 1 winner, which he shares in ownership, for The TAB Everest at Randwick Oct. 14, so with his racing manager Andrew Williams he decided to invest in the race with his horse.
Williams, Fasig-Tipton's Australian representative, had heard the positive vibes to come out of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1), the slots race on which The Everest is based.
"We came up with investing in The Everest, purely on the back of the success of the Pegasus World Cup," Williams said. "I said to Greg when it came up it was something we should probably be having a close look at and investing in because of what I heard from America. Difference here is that it is a $600,000 commitment each year over three years. We could have gone and brought three $500,000 mares for the next three years, but with the catalyst of having Chautauqua in the racing stable it made a lot of sense.
"Would we have done it without the horse probably not," he said. "Obviously securing the horse's spot took a lot of stress and pressure out of the situation. It was not like he wasn't going to get a slot. He was always going to get a slot, but as an owner why would you want to lose a percentage of the capital to someone else? So you man up and take it yourself. It is really no difference to any other race when you are paying the acceptance fee was the way Greg saw it."
So Chautauqua runs for his owner in The Everest.
The gelding by Encosta de Lago is getting grayer by the day but what hasn't faded are the memories of his storming wins in Australia and Hong Kong.
Three times over Randwick's 1,200 meters, he won the Darley T J Smith Stakes (G1), with his April score simply mesmerizing.
Like always he made a late charge from the tail of the field, this time Chautauqua was more than eight lengths from the leader at the furlong and still won.
"He's like any athlete, it's like Usain Bolt, a swimmer, or Winx (AUS) for that matter, they are all strong when it counts," co-trainer Michael Hawkes said. "The last 200 meters is where it counts and his last 200 meters is phenomenal, always has been and probably always will be. That's a trait that he's got that he really wants to hit the line, attack the line and he certainly still wants to be there because he's still doing that."
There are the Chautauqua doubters leading into Saturday after a couple of unplaced runs in the lead-up to the richest race on turf. However, team Hawkes has had only one job this spring to win The Everest, and Chautauqua is ready to peak.
"He's still got that killer instinct, he's still got that will to win and he's a horse that in the past has produced something special in the big event," Hawkes said. "I think he's on a similar path, and he's a horse that can do the unimaginable so you can never write him off."