Malavio and Ottavio ready for Group One test

“He’s going to win the Epsom!”

That was owner-breeder Ottavio Galletta’s exuberant response to congratulations on Malavio’s courageous win in the ATC Tramway S. G3 on 7 September. 

It was a quality performance in a quality field and earned the 5YO son of Snitzel a ballot exemption for the $500,000 Epsom Handicap G1 on 5 October. Trainer Steve Englebrecht will give him one more lead-up race, in the Bill Ritchie H. G3 this coming Saturday.

Ottavio emigrated from Calabria, Italy in 1963 and has been successful in the building industry, as the principal of Galletta Construction which employed up to 200 people in the 1970s. It was during this period that Ottavio began to race horses and he started right at the top, with the inaugural 1976 Australian Harness Horse of the Year Don’t Retreat, purchased from his Hunter Valley breeder, the late Barry Rose.

His path to Group success at Randwick has been much more circuitous. Well-occupied with his business, Ottavio gave up racing horses for several years, until he sold a few properties and set up a café with his son John in Norton Street, Leichhardt. It was there in 1996 that Ottavio met by chance the owner of a Flemington stakes-winning filly called Our Fiction (by Zoffany, from the family of top-class 2YO True Version) and was convinced to buy her as a broodmare.

Ottavio bred and raced five foals from Our Fiction, four of them winners, most notably Fictitious Lady (by Flying Spur), a five-time winner in Sydney.

Our Fiction’s second foal was the filly Win Here Win There, by former Arrowfield resident Dehere and originally offered for sale as a yearling under the Arrowfield banner. She won three races in Sydney before retiring to stud in 2003.

However, Ottavio had by then bought several other mares and decided to sell Win Here Win There to John Camilleri’s Fairway Thoroughbreds. John bred one foal from her and sent her to Snitzel in 2007 before selling her back in foal to Ottavio for $60,000 at the 2008 Inglis Easter Broodmare Sale.

The resulting foal was, of course, Malavio, named for Ottavio’s grand-children Maria, Laura and Ottavio, and now the winner of nine races, three of them with Group or Listed status, and more than $400,000.

Ottavio says, “He is a very, very nice horse and we haven’t seen the best of him yet. I think he may even be better at 2000 metres.”

He acknowledges the support of Duncan Grimley and Yvonne Clerke at Glastonbury Farm where Win Here Win There is based with her attractive yearling filly by Snitzel – a lookalike for Malavio at the same stage, according to Ottavio. The mare is due to foal to Snitzel for the third time next month.

Win Here Win There has two other fillies in training: 4YO She’s A Girl (by Danehill’s son Bold Expectation) who will carry the Galletta colours in her season debut at Newcastle next week, and 2YO Shengli (by Choisir), sold for $160,000 at the 2013 Inglis Australian Easter Sale, and now in training with Paul Messara.

In the meantime, Ottavio is undergoing his second cataract operation to make sure that, 17 years after buying into the dream of Group One success, he doesn’t miss any of the excitement of having a Group One runner.  

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