Castelvecchio a two-time finalist for Australian awards

Now enjoying his new life at Arrowfield, Castelvecchio has been warmly supported by breeders in his first season at stud. (PHOTO: Joan Faras)

Castelvecchio has other obligations to meet in the Arrowfield serving barn this Spring, but a year ago he was on the path to the best performance of his career.

His outstanding Cox Plate G1 second to Japan’s 2019 Horse of the Year Lys Gracieux, and subsequent Rosehill Guineas G1 win have put the Arrowfield-bred son of Dundeel among the finalists in two categories of the 2019/20 Australian Racehorse of the Year awards. 

Castelvecchio vies for the titles of Champion 3YO Colt and Champion Middle Distance Performer and if international ratings mean anything, he must be considered a strong contender for both awards. 

His rating of 120 on the 2019 Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings is matched by only two other Australian 3YOs last season, both also dual category award finalists: the brilliant Everest winner Yes Yes Yes and, on the 2020 Rankings, Bivouac. The trio are ranked joint Champion 3YOs on the 2019/20 Australian Classifications.

Lys Gracieux, who won the Cox Plate decisively, but with a margin of only 1.5 lengths on Castelvecchio, earned a 2019 international rating of 126 – higher than any other horse that raced in Australia last year, including Winx, and above the top-rated Australian horse of 2020, Nature Strip (rated 124). 

As Castelvecchio’s jockey Craig Williams said, “He was so awesome in defeat… I thought we’d see if the Japanese mare was as good as we thought, unfortunately she was, but my horse did a great job.”

The Cox Plate was Australia’s second highest-ranked Group 1 race of 2019 with a rating of 121.75, just below the 122 figure of Winx’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Castelvecchio finished two lengths in front of Te Akau Shark and 2.4 lengths ahead of Magic Wand,

And Lys Gracieux’s Australian success was no flash in the pan. Her two performances either side of the Cox Plate were devastating, as she romped away from Japan’s best weight-for-age horses in June’s 2200-metre Takarazuka Kinen G1 and December’s Arima Kinen over 2500 metres.

Castelvecchio returned in the Autumn to strengthen his claim to the middle-distance & 3YO Colt awards with an ebullient victory in the 2000-metre Rosehill Guineas, defeating Group 1 winners Prince Fawaz, Shadow Hero & Warning.

Trained by Richard Litt, Castelvecchio was bred by Arrowfield and bought from the 2018 Inglis Classic Sale for $150,000 by owners Ottavio & Wendy Galletta from the 2018 Inglis Classic Sale. He retired to stud as a Group 1 winner at two & three with prizemoney of $2.9 million.  

Arrowfield graduates The Autumn Sun & Weekend Hussler are previous winners of the national Champion 3YO Colt award.

Latest news

Tannhauser delivers at Doomben Tannhauser delivers at Doomben

It's a case of "Queensland Derby here I come" for Dundeel's 29th SW Tannhauser after his resolute victory in Saturday's Rough Habit Plate G3 at Doomben...


Three graduate stakeswinners in 24 hours Three graduate stakeswinners in 24 hours

Sky Lab, Lazurra & Bittercreek have compiled a rapid-fire sequence of Arrowfield graduate stakes victories, extending the records of Real Impact & Snitzel...


The Sun has risen! The Sun has risen!

Coco Sun sealed a momentous three weeks for her sire The Autumn Sun when she powered to a popular victory in Saturday's South Australian Derby G1...