Rick Williams says there is a downside to being one of the biggest supporters of the surprise package of the New Zealand training ranks Clayton Chipperfield.

"I get exhausted just being around him," laughs Williams, the boss of The Oaks Stud.

"When I go to the stables at Te Awamutu to check on the horses he never stops. He is riding this, saddling this, washing down horses, driving the truck.

"His energy is incredible. I even went to watch my wife compete in a half marathon one time and Clayton was out there competing and ran a great time without much training.


"That is why we were happy to take a chance on him as a trainer. Sure, he has a lot of talent but it's hard to beat that work ethic."

The "we" Williams refers to are himself and Oaks owner Dick Karreman, who have provided Chipperfield with a dream start to his solo training career.

That Chipperfield was a good horseman was never in doubt from the time he was a leading jumps rider, including winning two Great Northern Steeples on Golden Flare before riding with success in North America.

After returning home he was foreman then training partner for father-in-law Robert Priscott but spent most of the last seven years pre-training and breaking in horses. Hard work, no glamour.

"When I first went into that side of the business Rick and The Oaks were great to me and sent a truck-load over for me to pre-train," Chipperfield said. "And over the last three or four years I would take the odd horse to the races just to keep me eye in and things ticking over.

"But earlier this year we decided to give actual training more of a go.

"I am 39 now and pre-training and breaking them in is getting harder and harder. My body doesn't recover from the falls like it used to."

So Chipperfield told Williams and the other owners he pre-trained for he would like to take more horses to the races. The results, with small numbers, have not gone unnoticed.


Obsession looked a potential winter handicaps star while London Bound won her debut at Te Rapa by a cricket pitch and all of a sudden Chipperfield's name made punters look at a horse twice when assessing the field.

But most young trainers need that horse, the one to really fly their flag. Chipperfield's flag flyer is Catalyst, hot favourite for the $70,000 Cambridge Stud Breeders Stakes at Ruakaka today. Appropriately a son of The Oaks sire Darci Brahma, Catalyst had quickly lived up to his reputation, winning a Taranaki maiden by five lengths before demolishing his rivals in the El Roca Trophy at Hastings two weeks ago, a win that made him early favourite for the Hawke's Bay Guineas.

"We have known for a while he is pretty good but the Hastings win was special," admits Chipperfield.

Clayton Chipperfield. Photo / Trish Dunell
Clayton Chipperfield. Photo / Trish Dunell

"He had every reason to over-race after working hard early but he bolted in and he was home that night with his head in the bin eating, it took nothing out of him.

"That is one reason he is racing this week. He is that well and we have no concerns about it being his first right-handed race because he has trialled and obviously worked perfectly that way."

Catalyst's $1.50 quote for today's 3-year-old race is evidence nobody missed that Hastings effort and even the trainers of his key rivals, Jamie Richards (Aotea Lad) and Stephen Marsh (Exuberant) don't really expect to beat him today.

Safely through his trip north he will return to Hastings for their Guineas and then straight into the 2000 Guineas at Riccarton on November 9.

"He is untapped and we don't know how good he can be but it is very exciting for us this early into the new training career."

And if Catalyst wins the $500,000 Guineas at Riccarton, Chipperfield may get a rare chance to thank Queensland-based Karreman for his support.

"It is a funny thing, I have all these horses of his that Rick has sent me and I have only actually met Mr Karreman once and that was a few years ago."

• The Oaks also has stunning last-start Ruakaka winner Double Impact potentially heading to the 2000 Guineas and he will race at Hastings next Saturday and they own Kali, early favourite for the 1000 Guineas who races next in the Gold Trail at Hastings on October 5.

Must-watch races

2.01pm: Patron's Trophy, Ruakaka

3.15pm: Ruakaka Cup, Ruakaka

4.09pm: Metric Mile, Awapuni

4.25pm: Breeders Stakes, Ruakaka

5.50pm: Theo Marks Stakes (Volpe Veloce), Rosehill.

6.10pm: Makybe Diva Stakes, Flemington.