Horse whisperer Monty Roberts pleads one last time to save Chautauquas career

World-famous horse whisperer Monty Roberts has raised his voice to a dull roar but nobody seems to be listening when he says he can save the career of troubled sprinter Chautauqua.

“Chautauqua wants to run!” Roberts, 83, said from his home in California. “I want the public of Australia to know that Chautauqua wants to race. There is a problem stopping him from racing and I could educate the whole Hawkes team with what the problem is. I am sad that I am not being allowed to help this horse.

Stalled star: Chautauqua refuses to jump in a barrier trial at Randwick.

Photo: Amanda Wood

"Ive seen enough videos of him now to know what to do with him. I know in my own mind exactly whats going wrong with Chautauqua. But I cant start telling them because they wont know it. They cant try it because they dont know how to try it. John Hawkes would know more about training horses in one single cell of his body compared to me. But I know equine behaviour and I have the utmost confidence I could help Chautauqua but I am handcuffed. I could tell them within four or five days if he could race in The Everest."

The Grey Flashs career is in serious doubt after he again refused to leave the barriers at a trial at Rosehill last week.

Roberts, who calls himself "the real horse whisperer" having helped hundreds of racehorses overcome problems coming out of the starting gates, said Chautauquas managing owner, Rupert Legh, had been in contact with his camp since then.


"Mr Legh has had six or so conversations with my daughter, Debbie, in the last couple of days saying that hell be having some meetings and he will be in touch because he does not want to retire Chautauqua," Roberts said. "Well, if they dont want to retire him, they need me desperately."

Legh wasn't in a position to comment on Monday night as he was travelling back from the US.

Team Hawkes needs to convince Racing NSW stewards that Chautauqua, who has won nearly $9 million in prizemoney including three consecutive TJ Smith Stakes, deserves at least another trial to prove he is ready to come out of the gates.

"We would want them to provide evidence that they are doing something different," Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel said. "We need to protect the reputation of the sport, and we would need new advice that they are doing something different for us to lift the embargo on Chautauqua."

Van Gestel would not speculate if evoking Roberts name would be enough to ensure the horse was given another opportunity to trial.

As reported in the Herald last week, Legh had approached Roberts about coming to Sydney to help the Hawkes stable before there was a sudden change of heart on the eve of last Tuesdays barrier trial.

"Its important that the public in Australia knows that I have no anger with anybody," Roberts said. "To say they 'snubbed' me is not a word I use for this at all. They chose to follow John Hawkes. In my opinion, that was showing confidence in John Hawkes."

Roberts dismissed claims that Chautauquas refusal to leave the barriers for the sixth time in a row suggested the horse was ready to retire.

"Horses are flight animals," he said. "Chautauqua wants to run. They get together in a group when they are days of age and they run against one another because Mother Nature says the predator will eat the last one out of the meadow. So they race. His particular problem may have nuances that I have to see and deal with, and watch the affect of, before I say its time for him to race.

“There is a chance that this horse does not want to race anymore: its about a billion to one. This horse wants to race again. He would love to race again. Racing is not his problem. He has another problem. I know — I know — that I am right about it. Ive seen it in 150 other horses. They have this crazy thing called a starting gate, thats where the problem is.

"If they [the Hawkes stable] think they can do it themselves, I will be very sad. I want assurances that we would have bilateral agreements on anything that we would do. That John Hawkes would look, see and agree. That Mr Legh would look, see and agree. And I would look, see, and agree."

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