New trainer Tony Pike is hoping to get forgotten Kiwi gun Catalyst back to his best in New Zealand before eyeing off an Australian spring raid later this year.
Pike has taken over the training duties of the Group 1 winner after Clayton Chipperfield decided to take a break from the trade for personal reasons.
It’s been 10 months since Chipperfield’s former star Catalyst was last sighted on the track, finishing at the rear of the field in the Group 2 The Shorts at Randwick last September.
The son of Darci Brahma, which captured Australian racing fans attention following a stirring duel with Alligator Blood when beaten narrowly in the CS Hayes Stakes at Flemington in February last year, pulled up sore after the Randwick run and was sent for a spell.
"Alligator Blood has beaten Catalyst, bring on the Guineas!"
The rivals were stride for stride up the straight in an epic battle for the CS Hayes Stakes. @FlemingtonVRCpic.twitter.com/AyXa47UWuM
Pike was named as the new trainer of Catalyst back in April and the Cambridge conditioner has only recently begun to ramp up the gelding’s preparation in his first spring campaign with the classy horseman.
“So far so good,” Pike said.
“We've only had him for a short period of time but he had his most serious gallop on Saturday morning and the gallop was great.
“He has the ability and we want to try and get him back to where he was during that three-year-old season.”
Pike is likely to aim Catalyst at the Group 2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) and the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) before he contemplates making the trip across the Tasman.
Trainer Tony Pike with Nash Rawiller. Picture: Mark Evans – Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“He will have two runs over here and if he gets back to his best, we will give him a chance over there,” Pike said.
“We are looking at races like the Toorak or the Sydney program where the Epsom might be a nice race for him.”
The Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) is staged at Caulfield on October 9 while the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) is a week earlier at Randwick.
Pike will also be plotting a spring raid with Listed Tatts Stakes winner Tutukaka.
The rising three-year-old put his VRC Derby credentials on the table with a win at the back end of the Queensland Winter Carnival and has since returned to New Zealand.
“He is back in the stable on Monday,” Pike said.
“He travelled back great and we will assess how he comes up if we head straight to Melbourne.
“The tracks will play a big part. The Spring Champion and VRC Derby are what we are looking at.”
Pike also hopes to put a Melbourne Cup bid on the agenda for 2020 NZ Derby victor Sherwood Forest.
“He’s back in work and we will assess where he is at,” he said.
“The Melbourne Cup will be the main aim but if he’s not up to that there are plenty of country Cups there for him to target.”
Originally published asPike eyeing Australian raid with forgotten star
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