Australia's premier sprinter Chautauqua is a shadow of his former self in terms of appearance but the rising seven-year-old is still "full of life" according to co-trainer Michael Hawkes.
The three-time Group I TJ Stakes winner returned to work at the beginning of the month in preparation for a spring campaign that will revolve around the inaugural running of the $10 million The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on October 14.
"The horse looks unbelievable. Yes, he's got a bit whiter I suppose being a bit older now but he's still a superstar," Hawkes, who trains Chautauqua in partnership with his father John and brother Wayne, said.
"He's strengthened, he's ticking over well and we're just building him up nice and slowly."
Hawkes indicated that the Group II The Shorts (1100m) at Randwick on September 16 would be a likely starting point for Chautauqua while races in Melbourne are also under consideration.
"The Shorts is there first-up, the Premiere Stakes second-up, and then third-up in the Everest but who knows. Melbourne is there as well," Hawkes said.
"The way that we travel our horses I don't think it's an issue (travelling to Melbourne before The Everest).
"Ideally we would like to see him start in Sydney but I think it will all depend on the weights – the Shorts is set weights and penalties rather than weight-for-age."
Chautauqua is the $4.80 favourite in Sportsbet's Everest futures market. With $5.8 million allocated to the winner, victory for Chautauqua would see his career earnings sky-rocket to more than $14 million.