It’s surprising to think classy mare Catkins does not have a Group One victory to her name but the fact of the matter is she has missed out on all five of her attempts.
The Chris Waller-trained mare will step up to the highest level of racing for the first time this season in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m), running at Randwick this Saturday. Catkins is one of 10 sprint-mile runners nominated for the $500,000 race, which includes classy rivals Criterion and Hooked.
Catkins is also set to face competition in her Group One bid close from home with two of her stable mates nominated for the race – Scared Falls and Royal Descent. Both horses have enjoyed success at the highest level of racing but Catkins has the fitness edge.
The mare will benefit from two starts this preparation already, both of which she won. Catkins defended her title in the Group 2 Breeders Classic (1200m) first-up on February 7 before taking out the Group 2 Millie Fox Stakes (1300m) by half a length two weeks later.
“She obviously has the fitness edge over the other two,” Waller told Sky Racing.
“But she hasn’t yet got to the level the other two have.
“I’m hoping she can repeat what Appearance did last year.”
Six-year-old mare Appearance won the Canterbury Stakes last year on the back of two Group Two wins, just like Catkins.
Catkins did well to win the Millie Fox Stakes on February 21. The mare was four lengths off the winner around the bend and forced to come out the widest. She picked off all the challengers to score in the final 25m.
The mare has come close to winning a Group One race, placing in the Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) twice and running third in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) last autumn. It’s unlikely the mare will contest the race next month since the 2014 edition took too much out of her.
“She will get a big weight and I think we broke her heart in that race last year,” Waller said.
“We’ll just take it one race at a time with her.”
Sacred Falls finished fourth to stable mate Appearance in last year’s Canterbury Stakes but went on to win the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) one month later in a brilliant ride. The five-year-old horse returned in the spring to win the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) on September 20 but didn’t run out the 2040m trip of the Group 1 Cox Plate on her final start of season.
He has had two trials to get ready for the autumn, in which he’s set to defend his title in the Doncaster Mile. It’s set to be the final race for Sacred Falls, who’ll begin a new career at Waikato Stud in the spring.
Royal Descent hasn’t won a race since the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) two years ago, however the mare has placed in eight of her 14 subsequent starts, which included running a close second to stable mate Sacred Falls in both the Doncaster Mile and George Main Stakes last year.
She enjoyed a hit-out between races at Warwick Farm on Saturday, pleasing Waller with her performance.
“She is very forward and ready to go to the races in a week,” he said.
The final field and barrier trial for the 2015 Canterbury Stakes will be released Wednesday morning. In the meantime, open your Ladbrokes.com.au online betting account to receive up to $250 in a bonus match on your first bet.