Catkins a dream to ride, says Hugh Bowman

IF you listen to champion jockey Hugh Bowman, Catkins is just about the perfect racehorse.

“She is always one of the first to jump away and puts herself in a forward position, making her own luck,’’ Bowman said.

“Then she switches off totally underneath you, she relaxes and conserves energy and that gives her the chance to show good acceleration at the end of her races. She is a dream to ride, she never seems to let anyone down and it is why she is so hard to beat.’’

Catkins, who has also become a crowd favourite with Sydney race fans due to her striking grey colour and remarkable consistency, demonstrated her talents again with her second successive win in the Group 2 $175,000 Breeders Classic (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

The finish was closer than Bowman or trainer Chris Waller would have liked but Catkins ($2.10 favourite) was still able to beat a very game Lilliburlero ($10) by a half head with Mihiri ($5.50) more than two lengths away third.

Bowman only rode Catkins hands and heels as the mare edged past Lilliburlero after an exciting straight-long duel.

“Catkins got to the front easily and I think she just idled a bit in front,’’ Bowman said.

“She is trained here and knows the place well — she might have been having a lend of me.

“The whip is a last resort with her. I’ve won a couple of races on her without having to pull the whip because she is a horse that always gives her all.’’

Catkins scored her 13th win from 28 starts (and 10 minor placings), taking her prizemoney to over $1.35 million — with the promise of more to come during the Sydney autumn carnival.

Waller said although Catkins is a rising six-year-old mare she has been lightly raced through her career and retains her competitive streak.

“Catkins only won by a small margin but is it possible to say it looked comfortable?’’ Waller said. “She does us proud every start. If she doesn’t win, she is not beaten far.

“Hugh didn’t flog her, but that is Hugh, he is not hard on a horse. He is a great advocate for being soft on his horses and at least we go home with a horse to train.’’

All that is left for Catkins to achieve is an elusive Group 1 triumph and Waller is hopeful the mare can secure a deserved major this autumn.

“I think we broke her heart in the Coolmore Classic last year,’’ Waller said, referring to the mare’s 58kg impost she carried when third to Steps In Time.

“We won’t make the same mistake this year unless there is a higher rated horse that might force her weight down.

“So, the Queen of the Turf Stakes is her Group 1 target and then the Tatt’s Tiara.”


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