Group One winner Catalyst made a pleasing start to his spring campaign with a solid hit-out in his 900m trial at Te Rapa on Thursday, finishing fifth while powering through the line under a hold.
The son of Darci Brahma hasn’t been sighted on race day in New Zealand since winning the Group 3 Mr Tiz Trophy (1200m) on Karaka Million night more than two years ago and last raced in the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) in September 2020.
Catalyst was unbeaten in New Zealand as a three-year-old, winning the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), Listed Sir Colin Meads Trophy (1200m), Group 3 Northland Breeders’ Stakes (1200m), Group 2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m) and Mr Tiz Trophy when trained by Clayton Chipperfield.
He then crossed the Tasman where he just went down to Alligator Blood in the Group 3 C.S. Hayes Stakes (1400m) before he finished sixth behind his archrival in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m).
The six-year-old gelding has been plagued by injury since then but is set to make a return to racing in the coming month, with his main target being the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival.
Rick Williams, general manager for breeder-owner Dick Karreman of The Oaks Stud, was pleased with the gelding’s trial on Thursday.
“It was all we wanted him to do. He dragged back to last and was strong through the line,” Williams said.
“He is very big in condition still, so he will almost certainly trial again.
“We are mapping a path through to the Tarzino (Group 1, 1400m) hopefully.
“I doubt he will go to the Foxbridge Plate (Group 2, 1200m). We will probably dodge Te Rapa and work another path through for him.”
Williams said jockey Troy Harris was enthused by Catalyst’s return.
“Troy was excited and all he wanted to know was where he was going so he didn’t take another ride,” Williams said.
“So far, so good. He has had a lot of things go wrong so it is week-by-week with him.”