Trainer Clayton Chipperfield is confident he has a better Catalyst for the bigger challenges that lie ahead.

And so will be anybody else who saw the superstar 3-year-old trial at Matamata yesterday.

The 2000 Guineas winner looked bigger and stronger than his last public appearance at Riccarton two months ago when he cruised to victory in his 1000 open catchweight trial.

Winning an open catchweight trial is hardly mind-blowing stuff but it was everything about Catalyst's outing that thrilled trainer Chipperfield. Including the runner-up.


"He has tended to be a bit slow out of the gates sometimes so to see him jump so well and put himself in the one-one was really pleasing," he told the Herald.

"Then the way he quickened, to win that easily against a really good horse was great. And then he blew afterwards, confirming that he has a lot of improvement in him.

"So we got everything we wanted out of it and maybe even a little bit more."

What made the trial so much more impressive was the fact a genuine Australian-grade group one galloper in Te Akau Shark finished second.

Make no mistake, the big chestnut was only there to do what he needed and this was a trial and not a race so this wasn't Catalyst thrashing Te Akau Shark, it was two very good horses pleasing their trainers.

But their performances proved that Catalyst can at least match motors with Te Akau Shark, who finished second in an Epsom in October and third to one of the world's best horses in Lys Gracieux in the Cox Plate.

"We all know he is a really good horse so to be able to beat him like that, even though they are doing their own thing, was impressive," said Chipperfield.

Te Akau Shark's trainer Jamie Richards was happy but, like everybody, taken by the winner.


"Our fella was there to do what he did, hit the line on the bridle and did exactly that.

"So we are really happy and he will have an exhibition gallop again before he races at Te Rapa.

"But the winner was very good. He seems to do everything easily."

Catalyst will now head to the Mr Tiz Trophy at Ellerslie on Karaka Million night on Saturday week, the first time he will have been to Ellerslie.

"I am not going to take him up there for a look around, he doesn't need it," says Chipperfield.

"He seems to handle travel and new surroundings pretty well."

Through next week with his unbeaten record for this season intact, Catalyst is almost certain to head straight to Melbourne for a three-race campaign culminating hopefully in a spot in the All Star Mile, voting for which opens tomorrow.

That will mean no repeat clash with Te Akau Shark in the BCD Sprint at Te Rapa on February 8.

"We want to get him to Australia all going well and get him settled in because we hopefully have a big month coming up there," says Chipperfield.

The former star jumps jockey has been doing his research and knows Catalyst will need more than some fancy trials times to beat a beast like Queensland star Alligator Blood.

"I watched him win at the Magic Millions the other day, doing what he did after having a horror lead-in with all the travel and delays, he is going to be really really tough to beat.

"But hopefully in a few weeks they are feeling the same way about us."

Te Akau Shark will use the BCD at Te Rapa as his lead-up to a Sydney campaign which is aimed to culminate in the Queen Elizabeth in April, with Australia's best weight-for-age races eminently more winnable this season than during the Winx era.

With Melody Belle set to gallop between races on Karaka Million night and plenty of 1600m-2400m 3-year-olds likely to join the Australian assault after the Derby meeting in March, it would be a shock if the Kiwis can't snare a couple of major targets this autumn.