Castlevecchio relishes Champagne Stakes

Finally Castlevecchio had the distance he was needing and the Richard Litt trained Dundeel colt under Josh Parr made the most of the opportunity when he demolished the field in the $500,000, Group 1 Moet & Chandon Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday.

Third in the Group 1 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes over 1400m on the 6th he was 10th at the 400m and stormed home to finish 3/4L from the winner Microphone.

On Saturday the race was set alight by Lady Lupino racing fiercely for Damien Lane opening up a considerable lead down the back straight. At the 1200m the filly was 3L ahead of the $2.50 favourite Loving Gaby and James McDonald and the margin increased to 5L at the 1000m.

Loving Gaby closed the gap toward the top of the main straight, but there was still a 2L margin at the 400m. While all this was going on in front Parr was biding his time with Castlevecchio until off the hill at the 400m he launched a run down the middle of the track.

They were unstoppable and just as Loving Gaby reached Lady Lupino outside them Castlevecchio swept past and away to the line for a winning margin of 1 1/2L.

Loving Gaby (I Am Invincible) was second a the tough Lady Lupino (Sebring) and Lane third and clear of Fortress Command in fourth.

The time was a quick 1.33.31 on the Good 4 track with the final 600m in 35.50. Castlevecchio paid $3.00 on fixed odds and $2.70 on the tote.

Castlevecchio and Josh Parr off to the finish line, picture

It was the first Group 1 win for Warwick Farm based Litt.

“It is huge. It is a feeling I have never had. Just delighted,” he said.

“It has been pretty good. We have not had any hiccups. It has been a great preparation in. We would have loved to have won the Sires but that didn’t happen and coming two weeks into this we had great confidence he would run well.

“Looking after him, our staff look after our horses so well. There were no moments where we have ever doubted ourselves. We have gone straight on and done our job. Very happy.

“He will improve out of sight. He has a lot of maturing to do. He is only a small horse. He will go to Hanover Lodge and come back bigger and stronger,” he said.

“I am thrilled. Right now I am really buzzing,” said Parr.

“There is still a lot there. He is only just learning his craft now. Today he was able to jump into a midfield position, travel like the winner the entire way and won like a very good horse.

“The writing has been on the wall for some time that the Champagne Stakes was his mark, the 1600m at Randwick.

“Full credit to Richie [Litt]. What a great man he is. The job he has done with this horse has been remarkable. We had that period where he had the six week break between the Skyline and the Sires. He has been able to keep him up and have him peak on the day.”

“My dear Nan has been unwell lately. She beats home absolutely every winner I have. I am sure she is the difference every now and then. Grumbles - that one is for you,” he said.

Castlevecchio, out of the Dehere mare St Therese, was winning for the third and most important time for himself and his young sire. Back in February the colt announced himself winning the Inglis bonus race over 1200m at Warwick Farm earning $1.19m for owner Ottavio Galletta. After Saturday his earnings are $1,608,000 plus his value as a potential sire.

Josh Parr salutes. picture

Champagne Stakes, photo finish picture ATC

What the beaten jockeys said:

Mark Zahra (Power Scheme): “He was very colty today, didn’t run up to his ability.”

Hugh Bowman (Vinco): “High pressure race and he just wasn’t quite seasoned enough for it at this stage.”

Brett Prebble (Fortress Command): “Ran super, blinkers on, he put himself into a bit better position. Dragged him out quite a fair way from home, he’s not used to that very fast run tempo. He’s a horse with great upside.”

Jason Collett (War Baron): “Quite keen in the run, just battled away.”

Tim Clark (Dawn Too Good): “Didn’t settle well enough early, but I think he is better suited at the shorter trips.”

Blake Shinn (Persan): “It wasn’t his day today, but I think in time he might develop into a handy little horse.”

Adam Hyeronimus (Prince Fawaz): “Very exciting horse, just got brought out of his comfort zone in the middle stages, but really attacked the line well.”

James McDonald (Loving Gaby): “Amazing performance, she’s come a long way in a short period of time, it’s a real credit to the Maher and Eustace stable and also a credit to her. She’s a very good filly and she’s only going to get better from here on in.

Damian Lane (Lady Lupino): “She ran super, just a shame she probably doesn’t settle a touch better in the middles stages, but once she learns to do that, she’s going to be a serious horse.”

Jay Ford (Crystal Falls): “She was honest enough, but strangely enough she didn’t run the mile, so whether that’s just her at the end of her prep or not, but had a good run nonetheless.”

Corey Brown (Chia): “Probably just a run too soon for her jumping from 1300m to the mile, but she was good, I thought she ran well.”