A spring resumption is likely for talented galloper Catalyst. The son of Darci Brama had two interrupted preparations in Australia last year, with trainer Clayton Chipperfield citing joint issues as the main culprit.
Owner Dick Karreman, owner of The Oaks Stud in Cambridge, and his racing manager Rick Williams, have elected to take a cautious approach with him and they have given him time to mature over the last six months.
He has spent plenty of time spelling at The Oaks Stud, and he has also spent a few months on the water treadmill, and Chipperfield couldn’t be any happier with the way his stable star is looking.
“He has been on the water treadmill for a month and he is back at The Oaks spelling again,” Chipperfield said.
“He is going to do another month on the water walker at the end of next month and then he is back in with us.
“It has given him a break, but he is not putting on too much condition either. We are keeping him relatively happy and doing something because he is a horse who likes attention and doing things.”
Undefeated in five starts in New Zealand as a three-year-old, Catalyst had two starts in Australia last autumn, finishing second to Alligator Blood in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) before he ran sixth in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) after which a scintigraphy revealed bruising to his four fetlocks.
Catalyst subsequently returned home where he was prepared for an Australian spring raid, but he unfortunately pulled up sore in his first-up run in the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) at Randwick in September.
Chipperfield said it was just a case of letting Catalyst mature and his connections have taken a patient approach and given their exciting gelding time on the sidelines to develop.
“We are being cautious as well, taking him home and giving him a nice break like he has had, and getting him ready through the winter so we have got him ready for the spring,” Chipperfield said.
“It was frustrating, but there weren’t any injuries, he’s just a horse who has needed time, he was just feeling his joints.
“He did a lot of racing on hard ground in his three-year-old prep and I just think that started to tell on his joints. It happens with the odd horse, and they need more time, and he was one.
“Unfortunately we found that out in Australia. It would have been nice to find that out here. But that is how it goes and they have dealt with it.
“It’s nothing too serious or too stressful to worry about. It was just time and he looks amazing at the moment, so I am certainly looking forward to getting him back.”
New Zealand punters haven’t seen Catalyst race in the flesh since he won the Group 3 Mr Tiz Trophy (1200m) at Ellerslie on Karaka Million night last January, and they may get their opportunity in the spring, before Australian targets beckon once more.
“I would say he will have one run here and then we will make a decision,” Chipperfield said.
“He will trial up and obviously getting ready through the winter is going to help him out with the softer ground.
“We may even look at the Hawke’s Bay carnival.”
Chipperfield is also looking forward to resuming another of his stable headliners, London Bound.
“London Bound has matured and strengthened right up this time, so hopefully we can pick up a couple of wins with her,” he said.
“She is a three-win horse now, she is worth breeding from, but it will be nice to get a bit of black-type.”
Meanwhile, three-year-old filly Lovettorleaveit will have her last chance at Wanganui on Friday to prove she is worthy to tackle the Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) next month.
“Lovettorleaveit is heading towards the Oaks,” Chipperfield said. “But she is going around at Wanganui on Friday and if she doesn’t run in the top three she won’t be heading to the Oaks.
“The more ground the better, so hopefully she can show her best on Friday.”