Star New Zealand three-year-old Catalyst has impressed in a barrier trial in his homeland which has also featured Cox Plate placegetter Te Akau Shark.
This season’s Group One New Zealand 2000 Guineas winner, Catalyst strode to the line in Tuesday’s trial at Matamata to win the heat by two lengths from Te Akau Shark who was under no pressure.
The Clayton Chipperfield-trained Catalyst, winner of five of his six starts, figures high in early markets for the Group One Australian Guineas (1600m) for three-year-olds at Flemington at the end of February and the $5 million All-Star Mile (1600m) at Caulfield two weeks later.
Voting for the All-Star Mile opens on Thursday.
“I am very happy,” Chipperfield told NZ Racing Desk.
“We took the hood off and he put himself right there and to finish off the way he did with his ears pricked was very encouraging.”
Catalyst is scheduled to resume in the Group Three Mr Tiz Trophy (1200m) at Ellerslie on January 25 before heading to Australia for the Group Three C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 15.
“Hopefully we can show them what we have got in the Hayes and then go again in two weeks in the Australian Guineas,” Chipperfield said.
“And if he can get enough votes we will run in the All-Star Mile.”
The Jamie Richards-trained Te Akau Shark, who was second in the Group One Epsom and third in the Cox Plate during the spring, will begin his preparation in the Group One BCD Sprint in New Zealand before heading to Sydney.
Richards was pleased with Tuesday’s hit-out.
“He lobbed three back the fence and came up in behind them with no pressure,” Richards said.
“It wasn’t about chasing Catalyst or having a race today, it was just about building fitness and doing the right thing by the horse. We are pleased with how he is coming to hand.”
Te Akau Shark is on the second line of betting in an early market for the Group One Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) in Sydney in April.