By Bren O'Brien
The remarkable career of Chautauqua (Encosta De Lago) has drawn to a close in remarkable circumstances after he refused to leave the barriers in a specially convened trial at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
The crowd on Moir S. night were stunned as the 8-year-old effectively called time on his own racetrack career, staying flat footed despite the urgings of jockey Tommy Berry.
In what may be one of the most unique farewells in Australian racing history, Chautauqua was then paraded down the straight to huge cheers from the crowd, despite having refused to compete.
Managing owner Rupert Legh confirmed that the champion grey would be retired to the crowd at Moonee Valley.
"He didn't give me much of a feel. He was very quiet, a bit too quiet for my liking. He wasn't really interested from the time I got on him," - Tommy Berry
Berry said afterwards that he had a bad feeling he wasn't going to get his way with Chautauqua as soon as he got on his back.
"He didn't give me much of a feel. He was very quiet, a bit too quiet for my liking. He wasn't really interested from the time I got on him," he said.
Co-trainer Wayne Hawkes was philosophical about the grey's behaviour.
"He is what he is, what do you do?" Hawkes said. "Everybody has done the right job. We've done everything we can, but if he don’t want to do it, he don’t want to do it and guess what, he doesn’t want to do it anymore."
"But this horse is probably the smartest horse I've ever had anything to do with." - Wayne Hawkes on Chautauqua
"We've got this close before and he's too smart. He's too good for us."
"I'd say he's an old bastard, but he is what he is and if we had to go through the whole of his career again, I'd be more than happy to do so."
Chautauqua's career included a remarkable six Group 1 wins, including three TJ Smith S. and a Charmain's Sprint in Hong Kong as well as over $8 million in prizemoney.
Michael Hawkes has worked very close with Chautauqua over recent months in a bid to turn around his barrier manners
"His jumpout at Flemington last Friday was outstanding. He flew out of the machines. What you saw last Friday, is what he's done the whole time we have been working with him," he said.
"We've got this close before and he's too smart. He's too good for us." - Wayne Hawkes
"But this horse is probably the smartest horse I've ever had anything to do with."
Hawkes paid tribute to everything Chautauqua had achieved.
"He's probably a people's horse and he's taken us around the world, he said. "He's given us some great thrills."
"He's a crowd favourite, people love him and keep talking about him."
"For the connections and everyone that has worked with him, it's been a fantastic ride and it is what it is."