Star galloper Catalyst may not have a trainer, but he is in great order as his team looks ahead to spring racing.
The outstanding three-year-old male of last season hasn’t raced since pulling up lame at Randwick in the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) in September, but he has recovered well, according to Rick Williams, who manages the gelding for owner Dick Karreman of The Oaks Stud.
“He’s perfect. He’s never had any surgery or anything,” Williams said.
“We’ve just x-ray checked him and everything is as it should be so let’s hope we get a trouble-free run in the spring and we see the real Catalyst again.”
Catalyst’s previous trainer Clayton Chipperfield announced last Sunday that he was stepping down from training for personal reasons. Williams said he had been very happy with the way Chipperfield had looked after Catalyst and other horses from the Oaks, but he respected his decision to step aside.
One thing Williams says he won’t have to worry about is finding another trainer.
“Finding a trainer for Catalyst is one of the easier jobs we have to do,” Williams said.
“Every trainer in Australia will probably want to train him but he’ll be trained in Cambridge. We’ve got about five people that train for us there.”
Williams said the team had considered a Queensland winter campaign for Catalyst, but they decided it was best to wait until spring.
“We were going to take him to Brisbane, but Eagle Farm can get pretty hard and we thought why not give him more time,” he said.
“There’s nothing about him that suggests he needs more time, but he’s a gelding and we’re in no hurry with him, and if we look after him, we might get two or three racing seasons out of him.”
Catalyst will probably trial at Taupo in August and then run in the Group 2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m), after which it will be decided if he targets major races in Sydney, Melbourne or New Zealand.
The gelding’s sire Darci Brahma, who stands at The Oaks, hasn’t needed Catalyst to keep him in the limelight this season, and scored a major victory when Sky Darci (NZ) won the Hong Kong Derby (2000m) on March 21.
The Oaks didn’t sell any yearlings at Karaka this year due to uncertainty about the marketplace with overseas buyers not allowed in the country, but Williams said it shouldn’t be a problem for selling Darci Brahma’s progeny.
“We’ve never been afraid to try and sell our horses at trials or off the racetrack, and his progeny have been very easy to sell,” Williams said.
“Fortunately, any good-sized promising colt or gelding can be sold to Hong Kong, so that’s good for him. There seems to be a shortage of horses there at the moment. Any good racehorse is being offered telephone numbers.”
Williams said The Oaks will also have a presence at the NZB Ready to Run Sale later this year, but should be back in full strength at the National Yearling Sale in 2022.