Boom New Zealand three-year-old Catalyst has shown he can be a force in Melbourne, overcoming a sluggish start to win a Group Three race at Ellerslie.
Second favourite for next month’s Australian Guineas, Catalyst missed the start and was a clear last until the home turn in Saturday’s Mr Tiz Trophy (1200m).
But when Troy Harris asked for the acceleration that has carried Catalyst to four stakes wins through the spring, the star gelding answered the call.
Catalyst cruised past his rivals and stretched out to win by 2-1/2 lengths under hands and heels.
His trainer Clayton Chipperfield confirmed Melbourne would be the next stop for the winner of six of his seven starts with the Group Three C S Hayes (1400m) on February 15 his first Australian mission.
“That was heart-stopping,” Chipperfield said. “I thought we were in a heap of trouble, but what a turn of foot he’s got.
“The amount of ground he was able to make up in a short space of time, it’s just unbelievable.
“He’ll take plenty of improvement out of this as we head towards Australia. But we’ll be putting the hood back on. He can’t afford to fall out of the gates like that over there.”
Harris put Catalyst’s slow start down to the distraction of a horse playing up in a neighbouring gate.
“I was never worried, I always knew he was going to pick them up,” he said. “It’s unreal riding a horse like him – he’s a machine.”
Run To Perfection, fourth behind Catalyst in the 2000 Guineas, finished second with filly Bavella third.
Queensland star Alligator Blood remains the $4 favourite for the Australian Guineas with Catalyst at $4.50.