Exciting three-year-old Catalyst. Photo credit: Trish Dunell
Dick Karreman has certainly confirmed his desire to enjoy racing top-class horses as he chases further Group One success.
The highly successful Queensland businessman and owner of The Oaks Stud has officially turned down a $2.5 million offer for the exciting three-year-old gelding Catalyst, who is hot favourite to win next month’s Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton after annihilating his opposition in Saturday’s Gr.2 Sacred Falls Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m) at Hastings.
The offer was declined after Catalyst had scored another highly impressive win in his previous start, the Gr.3 Northland Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) at Ruakaka last month.
The manner in which the son of The Oaks Stud’s flagbearing-sire Darci Brahma left his rivals in his wake on Saturday when cruising to the line in the hands of Troy Harris has resulted in the three-year-old being installed a raging hot $1.15 favourite for the 2000 Guineas.
Karreman has made a decision to retain some of The Oaks Stud’s colts to race rather than the usual stud process of selling all the colts, even most of the less-fashionable ones.
“Dick loves his racing and he made his mind up a while ago he wants to race good horses,” Rick Williams, The Oaks Stud’s General Manager said. “I really rated some of them, especially Catalyst, and we decided to hold on to them and try them rather than sell them for little money.
“Dick is in a position where he can do it and I know it’s big money for Catalyst, especially being a gelding, but if he sells him he might not find another one as exciting.
“Dick got so many thrills out of racing Seachange and he’s got a chance to relive some of those thrills with Catalyst.”
A dual New Zealand Horse of the Year and seven-time Group One winner, Seachange was bred by Karreman and went on to perform creditably when competing in Australia, Dubai and England. Her first Group One success came in the 2005 Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m), the Riccarton feature Karreman also won 10 years later with the Darci Brahma filly Risque.
Karreman also had a racing share in Darci Brahma so he has already tasted success in the 2000 Guineas, having completed the Guineas double that same year with Seachange.
“If Catalyst can win the 2000 Guineas it will mean so much to Dick, who will definitely be over for it,” Williams said. “He might never be in the same position again.
“Catalyst is such a professional. He’s got a phenomenal stride and he does it so easily. He’s such a lovely horse to do anything with. And the way he came back under Troy when he went to the front at Hastings showed how relaxed he is. There’s no worry about him getting the 1600m or even further later on.”
The immense talent shown by Catalyst after completing an impressive hat-trick of wins last month could have been reason to take him to Melbourne for the Gr.1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) Saturday.
“Catalyst is a 16th of November foal and he really hasn’t turned fully in his coat yet. In my view he’s still an unfurnished horse,” Williams said.
“The 2000 Guineas is $500,000 and that’s good money for New Zealand. It’s better he stays back here and have a break after this and we look at Australia in the autumn.”
If the Clayton Chipperfield-trained three-year-old lives up to expectations in the 2000 Guineas he will become Darci Brahma’s 10th Group One winner and it will be all sights on Australia in the autumn.
“He’ll predominately do his racing in Australia in the autumn, whether it be Sydney or Melbourne,” Williams said.
“With Victoria and New South Wales at each other to have the biggest prizemoney, the good three-year-olds will be split up. There are so many great options over there and we’ll just go where it suits best.
“I could see him getting 2000m in the autumn with a Group One race like the Rosehill Guineas possibly suiting him. But there will be Melbourne to consider, too.
“For now we’re concentrating on the 2000 Guineas. He’s having a quiet week and whether he has another race or trial before Riccarton we’ll decide as it’s five weeks away. It could more likely be a trial if he needs it.
“He’ll definitely go out for at least four weeks after the 2000 Guineas and we’ll regroup for Australia.
“And with a horse like him, you never know if he does it in the autumn there’s a race like the Golden Eagle (1500m) the next year to consider.”
Karreman could also be represented by a second home-bred Darci Brahma runner in the 2000 Guineas with Double Impact still in contention after following up a highly impressive debut win at Ruakaka with a wayward third at Hastings.
“I don’t rate him far behind Catalyst,” Williams said. “He’s still a big kid and he showed that at Hastings. Whereas Catalyst was a born racehorse, he’s still learning the game, but he’s going to Matamata on Saturday and if he wins and does it well he could still go down.
“Whatever he does he’ll be better in the autumn. And we’ve got Darci’s Tune, another very promising Darci Brahma with Patrick Payne in Melbourne.”
Karreman also has a chance to repeat the 2005 Guineas double as he is part-owner of Kali (also by Darci Brahma) headed for the second leg, the Gr.1 gavelhouse.com New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) on November 16.
Kali was an unlucky seventh in the Gr.3 Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings after being promoted to first on the opening day of the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival.
“She’ll go to Ashburton for the Group Three 1400m (Barnwood Farm Stakes) on Saturday week and may even have an exhibition gallop at Wednesday’s Taupo meeting this week,” Williams said.