New Zealand stars trial at Taupo

A solid showing in his 1100m trial at Taupo on Wednesday has Catalyst’s connections excited ahead of his Sydney spring campaign.

The Group One winner jumped well from the gates and went up to sit outside leader Aretha before hitting the lead turning for home and ran away to a comfortable 1-3/4 length win.

Trainer Clayton Chipperfield was pleased with what he saw and he said the exciting thing is there is plenty of improvement to come from the son of Darci Brahma.

“To see him bounce out of the gates like that and put himself right there was quite encouraging going forward with the Australian plans,” he said.

“He’s a lot stronger in his action and he’s mentally stronger as well. 

“He just came to the end of it in the last little bit of the trial, which is good because there is obviously improvement left in him, so we’re looking forward to the next step.”

Catalyst is set to fly to Sydney next month where he will enter the care of Cambridge trainer Tony Pike who will have staff members Chris McNab and Matthew Ward on the ground in Australia.

“Depending on how he pulls up in the next couple of days we may trial him again or we will find a race meeting and give him an exhibition gallop before he flies out,” Chipperfield said.

“At this stage he is due to fly out on the 14th of September and his first start will be the 19th (Gr.2 The Shorts, 1100m).”

Chipperfield said Catalyst has matured a lot since autumn and he is looking forward to seeing him compete in Sydney, where a tilt at the A$15 million The Everest (1200m) remains on the cards.

“In track work he gets on the bit and works under me whereas last time he just plopped around and did everything I wanted him to do,” he said.

“He’s a lot more switched on this time and is a lot more happier in his work.”

Catalyst had a standout three-year-old season last term, winning all four of his starts in the spring, including Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), Gr.2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m), Gr.3 Northland Breeders’ Stakes (1200m), and Listed El Roca – Sir Colin Meads Trophy (1200m).

He continued his unbeaten season in New Zealand when taking out the Gr.3 Mr Tiz Trophy (1200m) in January before finishing runner-up behind Alligator Blood in the Gr.3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington.

His autumn campaign was curtailed after sustaining fetlock bruising after his unplaced run in the Gr.1 Australian Guineas (1600m).

Owner Dick Karreman’s racing manager Rick Williams was also buoyed with what he saw at Taupo.

“I am extremely happy with the way he went today and he is right on target for The Shorts, which is about five weeks away,” he said. 

Catalyst at Taupo on Wednesday, picture Race Images

Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards had a strong contingent at the Taupo trials and he came away pleased with how his team performed.

Multiple Group One winner Avantage won her 1100m heat in the hands of Opie Bosson and Richards said she is on target for the Gr.2 Valachi Downs Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa next month.

“She is coming up really nicely,” he said. “She is a good mare. Opie was really pleased with how she felt and she is on track to head to the Foxbridge and then the first couple of legs at Hastings.

“We have got a little bit of time to fill between now and then, but she is coming up really nicely and we are pleased with where she is at.”

Stablemate Scott Base ran on well to finish fourth in the same heat and he too is destined to follow the same path.

“Scott Base trialled really nicely as well,” Richards said. “He trialled really well at Te Rapa a couple of weeks ago and he is coming up well. 

“He appreciates the better ground and does go to another level with the blinkers on.”

In an earlier trial Richards was represented by Group One performers In A Twinkling and Prise De Fer and he was happy enough with their unplaced runs.

“I thought In A Twinkling trialled really nicely,” he said. “He is a horse who has had a few little problems. We gave him a good long spell after he let us down in the Waikato Cup (Gr.3, 2400m).

“He seems to have come back well. He will trial again and then we will find a suitable race to kick him off in and hopefully end up in the 2000m race at Hastings on the last day.

“Prise De Fer also trialled well. If anything he looks like he might be a little more settled this year. I am looking forward to getting the blinkers back on him on race day, but Opie (Bosson, jockey) was happy with the way he felt.

“He will go to the Foxbridge first up and then the first couple of legs at Hastings and then he may head back for the third one. We will just get through these first couple of runs and make a plan.”

Group Two winner Aotea Lad and Group One performer Vernazza had an exhibition gallop over 800m at Taupo on Wednesday and Richards said they are both on track for their respective targets.

“Aotea Lad was a pretty good two-year-old and just struggled to find his form as a three-year-old,” Richards said.

“He has trialled a couple of times and just needed another hit-out and he will go off to the races shortly.

“Vernazza is a very nice filly who is owned by Cambridge Stud and she is bound for Sydney next Monday. 

“She will trial the week after that on the 25th (of August) and all going well she will follow a similar path to what Probabeel did last spring. Two runs into the Flight Stakes (Gr.1, 1600m), all going well.”