The same long Flemington straight Clayton Chipperfield hated the last time he visited the iconic track might prove to be his best friend today.

A lot has changed since that day, Chipperfield's one and only Flemington race day outing, on Anzac Day 2003.

Then a jumps jockey, Chipperfield rode life-long battler Korma in a A$50,000 hurdle. They finished second last.

"I was beaten at the top of the straight and it is a bloody long straight there when you going backwards," Chipperfield says with a laugh.


Chipperfield hasn't set foot on Flemington since that day but when he returns this afternoon it will be with a lot more horsepower than Korma, who won three from 58.

No longer a jockey, the Te Awamutu horseman is getting serious about training and has potentially the most exciting horse in New Zealand, maybe even Australasia, in Catalyst.

He has been the find of the New Zealand racing season, with dazzling sectionals coming courtesy of that same long stride that helped dad Darci Brahma win an Australian group one juvenile race.

Darci Brahma also went to Flemington in the late summer and had to settle for second in the Australian Guineas to an Australian cult hero in Apache Cat.

Chipperfield and Catalyst start down that same path today.

It may be only a A$160,000 lead-up race in the C S Hayes today but threatening Catalyst's unbeaten season is another Aussie hero in Alligator Blood, who like Catalyst has tasted defeat only once. They clash today, again in the Guineas in two weeks and the All Star Mile two weeks after that.

It has the making as a classic transtasman rivalry but today the deck is stacked in Alligator Blood's favour. He has the ace draw and the speed to use it so looks certain to be in front, maybe a fair way in front, of the smaller Kiwi galloper.

As special as Catalyst may be, he could be giving Alligator Blood and a genuinely talented galloper such as Dalasan three or four lengths at the top of that long Flemington straight.


Which is why the most famous run home in Australian racing may aid Catalyst.

Last time he was let loose off heals on a track like this was in the 2000 Guineas at Riccarton. Maybe the opposition weren't as good but he was breathtaking.

"Maybe the long straight will be more enjoyable this time," says Chipperfield.

He is adamant Catalyst is "a lot better" than when he came from last to win on Karaka Million night but also warns punters that the race may pan out against them.

"The start will be crucial. As we know he can be slow away and if we have to come from last then Alligator Blood has all the advantages," says Chipperfield.

"If that happens then I will be happy just to know that he can run with these horses."

That is what all the Aussie form judges think, those who live via the speed map. They believe Alligator Blood maps to dominate and the money has already come for him, pushing Catalyst out to $3 with the promise of more.

There is no room for parochialism in punting, that tends to lead to eating your dinner out of a can.

And Catalyst will, under whatever scenario you envisage, have to be clearly better than Alligator Blood to beat him today.

There is a good chance he is.

Cat v Alligator


A$160,000 C S Hayes Stakes.


Flemington, Melbourne.


4.50pm (NZ time) today.


Queensland star Alligator Blood (9 starts, 8 wins, 1 second) vs Waikato wonder Catayst (7 starts, 6 wins, one unplaced).


Huge move for Alligator Blood into $2, Catalyst out to $3 in Australia.