Kiwi superstar Catalyst will be fitter and sharper for his rematch with Alligator Blood in the A$1 million Australian Guineas.

And that leaves trainer Clayton Chipperfield seeking just one more piece to his preparation puzzle heading into Saturday's Group 1: a better draw. Catalyst sat outside Queensland hero Alligator Blood and the pair produced a classic home-stretch battle in their first career meeting in the CS Hayes Stakes at Flemington 10 days ago, the Alligator winning fair and almost square.

The almost comes from the fact Catalyst had to carry 1kg more because of the set weights and penalties conditions of that race, whereas when the pair meet again this Saturday they will be at level weights.

That is an obvious advantage for the Kiwi, who has been unbeaten at home this season, but Chipperfield says there is an even bigger advantage heading into Saturday.
"My horse is definitely better than he was [at last start], no doubt," says Chipperfield.
The Te Awamutu trainer spent a few days back in New Zealand after the narrow defeat but returned to Victoria last Friday, where Catalyst is stabled with fellow former Kiwi jumps jockey Brett Scott.

Advertisement

"I gave him a nice hit-out on Saturday at Mornington, just to open his pipes a bit after a few easy days," Chipperfield told the Herald. "We galloped 1200m, just half pace for the first half and then home the last 600m in 39 seconds, but I didn't want him to go any faster because there is quite a steep climb up the straight here at Mornington."
That work mirrored what Catalyst did three days before the Hayes but this time there was a difference.

"He did it a lot easier," explains Chipperfield. "He climbed the hill a lot easier and he was bolting, all he wanted to do was go faster. He is definitely better than for the last race, it has brought him on."

Catalyst will have a more serious blowout over 1400m in the hands of Guineas jockey Damian Lane tomorrow morning, the extra 200m because Saturday's race is 1600m as opposed to the 1400m of the Hayes. While Chipperfield is thrilled with Catalyst, he would love to draw inside Alligator Blood for Saturday's feature.

"Last time we had to sit outside him because there was nobody else to put pressure on him and from what I am hearing it might only be an eight-horse field or something like that.

"So I'd love to draw inside him and be able to jump and dictate to him rather than the other way around because otherwise there may not be a horse to take us into the race.
"We can't control that but it would be a help."

Chipperfield consulted with last-start jockey James McDonald about whether to put the blinkers Catalyst has worn in New Zealand back on the gelding this week, but both agreed they weren't needed.

"He jumped [at the start] so well without them last time and that could be really important this week but he just doesn't need them we believe.

"He wasn't looking around at Flemington last start, travelled well and if it does become a battle like last time I want him to be able to see the other horse, or any of them."

Advertisement

Catalyst is now the favourite for the Guineas with almost all bookies Australasia wide and while there is some rain forecast for Melbourne this week his trainer is hoping for a firm surface on Saturday, even though Catalyst has won on soft ground.

"I think he will show more of that speed on a better track."