Top three-year-old Catalyst will make his first public appearance since Group 1 success at Riccarton when he competes at the Matamata trials next week.
The son of Darci Brahma lived right up to expectations when registering his fifth win from six starts with a dominant display in the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at the New Zealand Cup meeting on November 9 and he has thrived during his recent spell. “He had three weeks off when he came back from Christchurch and put on 23kgs in the 21 days he was out at The Oaks,” trainer Clayton Chipperfield said. “He didn’t lose a lot of fitness and when I weighed him the other day he was 473kgs and he last raced at 460kgs. “He’s put on a bit more muscle and is more solid. He looks great. “He’s had a few run-alongs and he did a bit more in his work last Saturday. “He’s all set to go to the Matamata trials (on Tuesday week) and Troy (Harris) is coming over to ride him in work beforehand.”
Harris has been Catalyst’s regular rider in his last four starts, which include impressive wins in the Group 3 Northland Breeders Stakes (1200m) at Ruakaka and the Group 2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m) at Hastings. Catalyst did put a scare through his camp before his New Zealand 2000 Guineas triumph. “He stood on a nail after doing an exhibition gallop at Te Aroha about 10 days before the 2000 Guineas,” Chipperfield said. “He was never lame, but I was cautious of infection.”
Catalyst will resume in the Group 3 Mr Tiz Trophy (1200m) at Ellerslie’s Karaka Millions meeting on January 25 and provided he passes the test he will then head to Melbourne. “There’s also the BCD Sprint (Group 1, 1400m) at Te Rapa if he needs another run here, but it’s more than likely he’ll go straight to Australia after the Mr Tiz,” Chipperfield said. The Group 3 C.S. Hayes (1400m) at Flemington on February 15 is pencilled-in as Catalyst’s Australian debut with his next mission, the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) on the same track on February 29.
Catalyst is also in contention for the $A5 million All Star Mile (1600m) at Caulfield on March 14 with nominations for the event closing on Thursday. Voting for runners to get into the field is this year open to New Zealand voters and Chipperfield hopes that will help Catalyst’s case. Voting begins on January 19 (six days after nominations close) and ends on February 16, three days before the 10 vote-getters are announced. The four wildcards for the All Star Mile are finalised on March 2. “He’s got a big following and hopefully he will go well in his first run in Australia to get more voters to swing his way,” Chipperfield said.
Catalyst will be based at David Bourne’s Seymour property which Chipperfield believes will suit his stable star. “He’s got paddocks as well as boxes and Catalyst is used to being in a paddock every day here and stabled at night,” Chipperfield said. “We’ve already transferred his feed to the Dunstan product they use in Australia and he’s fine with it.”
Chipperfield is grateful to Catalyst’s owner, Dick Karreman, for retaining the training of the high profile three-year-old in Australia and has arranged with his partner’s father, fellow Te Awamutu trainer Robert Priscott, to fill in for him during Catalyst’s Melbourne campaign. “I’ve got 30 horses in work and will come back after he first races and Robert will go over for 10 days then we’ll swap over again,” Chipperfield said. “Robert and I have worked in well for years and I know he’ll be in good hands.”
Chipperfield’s team also includes Desert Mirage, a Roc de Cambes filly raced and bred by Karreman’s Oaks Stud who holds a nomination for the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham on March 14. Desert Mirage landed her first win in three starts when scoring fresh-up over 1400m at Tauranga last Thursday. “She’ll run next at Tauranga on January 16 in a rating 65 and we’ll decide after that if she needs another 1600m or goes straight to 2000m,” Chipperfield said. “Obsessive will also go to the same Tauranga meeting, for a rating 82 2100m.”
Obsessive, who also races in Karreman’s colours, was beaten a head when second to Artiste over 2200m at Ellerslie on Boxing Day and has won four of his 16 starts and notched seven placings. “He’s still a big goof and stuffs around in the gates,” Chipperfield said. “That’s what cost him any chance in the Wanganui Cup. “He’s got the ability, but he just needs to switch on properly.”
Chipperfield also unleashed a promising type at Te Aroha last Friday when Spring Tide finished fourth on debut over 1200m. “He needed it and was feeling the pinch the last 100m,” Chipperfield said. “He’s going to improve a lot with that run.”