Chautauqua; The horse who wouldn’t run

By Evie

The infamous story of Chautauqua, the stubborn grey who just wouldn’t run, has come to be known worldwide. His antics in the stalls in pre-race trials soon became more famous than his own successes in his racing career.

The seemingly peculiar story of Chautauqua begun on the 20th of September in 2010, a year when the first iPads were released, the famous unpronouncable volcano in Iceland erupted and Prince William and Kate Middleton got engaged.

Bred by the Throsby family, Chautauqua is a son of Group 1 winning stallion Encosta De Lago and Group 1 winning mare Lovely Jubly, so straight away he had the recipe for success.

As a yearling he was set to be sold at the 2012 Australian Easter Yearling Sale, and he ended up being sold for around $300,000.

Chautauqua as a yearling

He was subsequently placed in the care of trainer John Hawkes, who had already trained a multitude of extremely talented horses, including but not limited to Toltrice, the winner of the 1972 Australian Fillies Triple Crown, Lonhro, Australian racehorse of the year in 2004, and Octagonal, Australian horse of the year in 1996.

And so Chautauqua was set to work, was taught the ropes, and was ultimately taught how to be a racehorse.

He was a very exciteable horse, and as a result of this he was gelded to calm him down. After his Gilgai Stakes win, his trainer John Hawkes said, “He was always a horse that was highly strung and that’s why we gelded him early and never pushed him along.”

His first race soon approached, and in the October of 2013 Chautaqua hit the track for the very first time. He was debued over 6 furlongs, and ended up finishing the race in second place, having lost by a nose; a very promising start for a never raced two year old. He finished second in his next race, also at 6 furlongs, and was subsquently freshened for 18 weeks.

After this 4 month break he made an explosive return to the track, and so on the 13th of March 2013, Chautauqua was awarded his very first win, finishing over four lengths in front of the next best horse.

Already he was showing adept at being a racehorse, however no sooner than he had won his maiden race, he had entered a lul, finishing 2nd in his next race, and then for the first time ever, finishing out of the top two in the Group 2 Arrowfield Royal Sovereign Stakes.

However, in his next race he was stepped back down in grade to the Group 3 Hawkesbury Guineas, which he proceeded to win by a length and a half.

Soon he was entered into the Group 2 Gilgai stakes, which he won by a massive four lengths. Now he was on everybody’s radar.

By the sixth of April 2015, Chautauqua had won his very first Group 1, with a length and a half win in the Darley TJ Smith Stakes. In November of the same year he won his second Group 1 race, in the Manikato Stakes. In February of 2016 he won the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes, marking his third Group 1 victory. He then headed to Sha Tin in Hong Kong, where he won Chairman’s Sprint Prize in March, before gaining his second win the TJ Smith Stakes in April of 2016. 12 months later he won the TJ Smith Stakes for the third time, and was looking forward the potential of winning it for the fourth time in 2018.

However, after an extremely talented and successful career, Chautauqua had finally decided he had had enough, and on the 27th of February 2018 Chautauqua refused to jump.

He was firstly entered in the third trial, in which he refused to jump, and thinking this was a one off, the stall handlers promptly entered him in the fourth trial just ten minutes later.

He refused again.

And so Chautauqua’s runabout of the stall handlers had begun. On March 8th Chautauqua refused to jump for the third time in nine days, and was hence banned from racing in Sydney until he had successfully completed two barrier trials.

On March 19th he refused for the fourth time. This refusal meant he could not run in the TJ Smith Stakes, and so could not be successful in the race for the fourth consecutive time.

His fifth refusal came at the Rosehill Trials, which barred him from entering the Everest, one of the world’s richest sprint races.

Chautauqua refuses to run for the fifth time

On the 6th August, Chautauqua refused to run for the sixth time. On the 28th of September 2018, the final nail entered the coffin as he refused to run for the seventh and final time, as he was promptly retired after the unsuccessful trial.

There are many mysteries in this small world of ours. What is the meaning of life? Where is Madeline McCann? Were the moon landings faked? And the biggest question of all- why did Chautauqua refuse?

One of the most shared beliefs into why he refused to run all those times was simply because of his high intelligence. This is a view shared by Chautauqua’s own trainer who believes he was the “smartest horse I’ve had anything to do with”. He simply knew there would be no repercussions to deciding not to run, and so he just didn’t run.

Maybe he just didn’t enjoy racing anymore, and wanted nothing to do with it.

The truth is, we may never truly know why Chautauqua refused to run all those times. And though he might not go down in history as one of the greatest sprinters of all time, he will be certainly be remembered for ages to come for being one of the quirkiest horses of all time.


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