Chautauqua passes first test back to racing

Chautauqua got a bit of a monkey off the back at Flemington on Friday, jumping out of the barriers without issue to be one step closer to a return to racing.

After stubbornly staying put on several occasions in the autumn, the champion grey did all he had to under the hoop who has ridden him to five Group 1 victories, Tommy Berry.

He did more than the minimum too — the rising eight-year-old going on to win his 800m jump-out.

Chautauqua still needs to trial to the stewards' satisfaction when he steps out at Rosehill on July 23, before a first-up crack at the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on August 4.

"It's probably the best he's ever jumped for me," Berry told RSN 927's Racing Pulse on Friday morning.

"He's usually a bit sluggish out or takes a while to muster.

"He jumped very quick, and probably about a head in front of the rest of the field, and I had to bring him back at the start, and let him relax and he finished off his trial really well.

He added: "The most pleasing part besides him jumping was the way he trialled. 

"I let him slide the last 150m of his trial, and he really let rip and was in front before I knew it.

"He's back in great order — he doesn't feel like he's seven rising eight, he feels like a young horse, he feels like Chautauqua as I know him."

Chautauqua was the last horse loaded for Friday's 800m jump-out, but Berry was confident if the champion sprinter had to spend longer in the gates come raceday, it wouldn't be a concern.

"I don't think it really matters," he added.

"From what I understand, when he hasn't been jumping, he's been in the barriers standing very still - which is how you want most horses.

"But he's always on his toe on raceday, and he was on his toe today, kicking out the back of the barriers.

"As long as he's bright and bubbly as he was today, he could've been in there for 2-3 minutes and it wouldn't have worried him.

"He was in the right frame of mind to jump today, and that's what he was going to do.

"I don't think how long he'll be in the barriers will affect him in the future."

For Berry now, it is back to Hong Kong for the season-ending meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday, when he will finish up his contract with the Hong Kong Jockey Club - before a return to base himself back in Australia.

"It's a full credit to the Club, and I can't thank them enough for letting me come over and trial him because it's against their protocol," Berry said.

"It's good to have my old mate back — I've missed him since I've been away."