Australia: Chautauqua bids to keep Manikato crown

Chautauqua: Won the Manikato Stakes by two lengths last year

PICTURE: Getty Images Chautauqua bids to defend Manikato crown By Mark Scully in Melbourne 5:01M 20 OCT 2016

Preview: Australia, Friday

Moonee Valley: William Hill Manikato Stakes (Group 1) 6f, turf, 3yo+ ATR

ALL the attention may be on Winx and her bid to land back-to-back Cox Plates on Saturday but on Friday evening, star sprinter Chautauqua will bid to defend a significant crown of his own.

The world's highest rated sprinter, Chautauqua could manage only fourth in the Group 1 Moir Stakes over five furlongs at Moonee Valley on his first start of the spring last month but jockey Dwayne Dunn has not lost any faith in the powerful grey.

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Dunn suggested the Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes stable may not have been firing on all cylinders on that day and is adamant Chautauqua, dubbed the Thunder From Down Under, remains the best speedster on the planet.

"There are not too many unbeaten horses, they are just freaks," said Dunn. "We think we've got him going as good as he can go so we just want to see him do it and tick that box. He has a big campaign ahead of him if he can do it."

Chautauqua has been drawn in stall one in Friday's 11-horse floodlit spectacular, containing a remarkable ten Group 1 winners, and Dunn admitted he is concerned about a lack of pace in the race, with the six-year-old famed for his blistering late closing speed.

"The draw is probably not ideal," he said. "He does go back but the pace doesn't look super hot, so even though he has a strong finish, that usually gets shown a lot more when the tempo is fast and they're coming back to you.

"The build-up to the meeting is all Winx and Hartnell though and without that there would be a lot more attention on us. That probably makes it a bit easier for me to concentrate and do what I need to do."

Among those bidding to dethrone Chautauqua is the Gai Waterhouse-trained filly English, who will jump from wider out in stall nine.

English claimed Group 1 honours in the All Aged Stakes in April and despite failing to score in two starts since, Waterhouse is in typically bullish mood.

"This race shouldn't be going under the radar because I think it is one of the most fascinating sprints and I really think she has her foot on the till," she said.

"I can't tell you how pleased I am with her. The barrier draw is a positive for her, I was delighted with it and I think she could easily upset them – she's done it before."

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