Cox Plate history favours Castelvecchio

The pressure point in the 2019 Cox Plate G1, as Castelvecchio (green cap) strikes for home and Lys Gracieux (red cap) begins to wind up her sensational finish. (PHOTO: Bronwen Healy)

Each year as the Cox Plate rolls around, social media fills with videos and memories of the race that owns perhaps the most illustrious list of winners on Australia’s Group 1 calendar.

First run in 1922, the Cox Plate honours racing pioneer, and founder of the Moonee Valley Racing Club, William Samuel Cox who was inducted along with his family to the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2006.

No fewer than 26 Cox Plate winners are also Hall of Famers, from Heroic (who won in 1926) to world champion Winx (2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018), and a string of great names between them including Phar Lap, Rising Fast, Tulloch, Kingston Town,  Octagonal, Might and Power, Sunline, Northerly, Makybe Diva and So You Think.

It’s also a race that has featured a good number of champion and leading sires among its winners and placegetters in the past 20 years. In fact, the current top 20 Australian sires include four Cox Plate winners (champion New Zealand sire Savabeel, Shamus Award, So You Think and Ocean Park), as well as placegetters All Too Hard and Pierro.  All but Ocean Park won or contested the Cox Plate at three.

It’s easy to imagine that Castelvecchio, the only 3YO and the first colt home in the 2019 Cox Plate, will join them in coming years. 

His performance to finish second, only 1.5 lengths behind Lys Gracieux, was described by his jockey Craig Williams as “awesome”.

It looked even better when the Japanese mare returned home to win the Arima Kinen G1 by five lengths, earn a ranking as the No. 2 mare in the world behind Enable and end her career as Japan’s Horse of the Year.

Dual Group 1 winner, Randwick 2YO record-setter and Cox Plate runner-up Castelvecchio is loving his new life as an Arrowfield stallion. (PHOTO: Joan Faras)

Castelvecchio ended 2019 as the southern hemisphere’s top-rated 3YO on the LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, alongside the sprinter Yes Yes Yes – both with a figure of 120.

But Castelvecchio’s 3YO career wasn’t quite complete. He returned in the Autumn to add  the Rosehill Guineas G1 to his record and retire as a 2YO and 3YO Group 1 winner. Only Champion 2YO Pierro among Australia’s top 20 sires that have won or placed in the Cox Plate can claim that.

At the end of the 2019/20 season Castelvecchio joined Bivouac & Yes Yes Yes to head the 3YO category of the Australian Classifications. 

Twelve months on from his Moonee Valley heroics, Castelvecchio is busy serving the large book of mares breeders have given him in his first season at stud. They include around 40 Arrowfield mares, among them Champion & Group 1 producer Miss Finland, Flidais (dam of Sweet Idea & Showtime), and stakes producers Double Ranga, Ocean Challenger & Wecansay Mak.

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