Chris Waller’s classy mare Catkins remains a firm favourite for the Group 2 $175,000 NSW Thoroughbred Breeders Classic (1200m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Catkins opened at $2 with Ladbrokes.com.au when betting started on Wednesday afternoon and quickly firmed into $1.90.
The Team Hawkes trained Mihiri has also attracted some support shortening in a point from $8 to the be the second favourite at $7 ahead of Neena Rock from the John Sargent stable at $8.50.
Premiership leading jockey Hugh Bowman is back aboard Catkins on Saturday and has been the grey mare’s regular rider since the pair took out the 2014 Breeders Classic.
Bowman has only missed teaming up with Catkins on one occasion from her last ten starts when he missed the ride in Group 1 $500,000 Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington on the first day of the 2014 Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Top Melbourne jockey Damien Oliver took over the reins in the Myer Classic and the pair finished third behind Bonaria and Sweet Idea.
Bowman said that Catkins wasn’t at her best last campaign but said that her two recent barrier trials have been good and is happy with her condition as she tries to make it back to back wins in the Breeders Classic.
“I rode her at Caulfield (third in the Tristarc Stakes) and I thought she was at least three lengths below her best,’’ Bowman told The Daily Telegraph.
“Then I watched her in the Myer Classic at Flemington and she was under the pump at the 300m, but fought hard and was beaten a length and a half.
“I’ve ridden her in both her barrier trials last month and she has felt really good.”
Catkins was never out of the place during her 2014 Spring Carnival campaign and with Bowman aboard scored a first up win in the Group 3 $125,000 Irresistible Pool & Spas Sheraco Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on September 13.
She was then beaten by Arabian Gold when second in the Group 3 $300,000 PJ’s Irish Pub Parramatta Golden Pendant (1400m) at Rosehill followed by a third behind Sweet Idea and Girl Guide in the Group 2 $200,000 Schweppes Tristarc Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on October 18 prior to running in the Myer Classic.
Catkins is yet to win at Group 1 level but has been placed on three occasions in the top company and as well as last year’s Myer Classic third, she was a nose second to Waller’s outstanding mare Red Tracer in 2013 Myer Classic.
She was also placed third behind Steps In Time and Sweet Idea in the in the 2014 $600,000 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Carnival.
Catkins has won twelve of her twenty-seven race starts and has earned $1.264 million in prizemoney and bonuses.