Te Awamutu trainer Clayton Chipperfield is looking forward to welcoming back a beefed-up Catalyst in the coming days, with this season's Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas winner being readied for a spring campaign.
The winner of six of his seven starts in New Zealand, Catalyst finished second to Alligator Blood in the Gr.3 CS Hayes Stakes in an enthralling clash at Flemington but failed to fire when sixth in the Gr.1 Australian Guineas to the same rival and was later found to have an issue that put an end to his autumn campaign.
"He's done super," said Chipperfield.
"He looks a lot stronger and more developed than when we saw him out in public last, so we're very happy with him.
"We really noticed how far behind he was in the 3-year-old races in Australia up against the bigger boys. He looked a little behind but with the time that he's had now he's hopefully going to look the part with the rest of them when we come back.
"He's only a few days away from coming back in now, we've re-tested everything and all is 100 per cent."
The Oaks Stud bred and raced son of Darci Brahma was a mid-November foal and Chipperfield believes the issues that halted his autumn campaign were maturity related.
"He had a scintigraphy in Australia and it was just some heat in the joints," said Chipperfield.
"It is mainly just an immaturity thing.
"We brought him home and did a bit of re-shoeing just to get the balance right. He had another scintigraphy a couple of weeks back and all the hot spots have gone."
While delighted with the first Australian run of his star 3-year-old, the former jumps jockey turned trainer was pleased to see the scintigraphy reveal a mild abnormality after being beaten four lengths in the Guineas.
"It was a bit comforting to be fair because we were scratching our heads. To find an issue it made us accept the loss a bit easier, but we are looking forward to going back across the Tasman because he's certainly a bigger stronger horse."
The Te Awamutu horseman is keen to target the Golden Eagle with his rising 4-year-old, with the lucrative Rosehill target, run for A$7.5 million last year but subject to change under a Covid-19 revamp, scheduled for October 31.
"Nothing is set in concrete but the Golden Eagle later on in the year, we've got that down as possibly his final race of the campaign," said Chipperfield.
"What happens before then, we'll just have to see how he comes up."
Given the uncertainty around prize money in New Zealand into the new season, Chipperfield has been unable to plan a path for Catalyst locally.
"To have something to look forward to in the next month or so has certainly given us some confidence, but where it goes from there is anybody's guess."
"I think a lot more people are thinking of Australia more than they would have six months ago."
While the 40-year-old envisages Catalyst doing much of his future racing across the Tasman, Chipperfield views his own future in New Zealand for the time being.
"I've got a young family, and I'm building up a business here in New Zealand," he said.
"If I could get a few horses and get clients that are keen to take them over to Australia then it could well be in the future for us.
"But for now, we're happy to bounce back and forth with the good ones, which I think is going to happen a lot more from New Zealand trainers in the next year or so."