The Champagne 2YO with the Classic Pedigree

Castelvecchio defied his Classic pedigree to compile a first-class 2YO season, including his record-breaking success in the ATC Champagne S. G1. (PHOTO: Bronwen Healy)

Don’t we love the horses that confound our expectations? (In a good way!)

The ugly ducklings that become swans. Danzero was no-one’s idea of handsome but that didn’t stop him winning the Golden Slipper G1 and becoming a Champion 2YO Sire.

The passed-in yearlings that turn out to be stars. One of them was Spill The Beans, rejected as too small by most buyers, but unbeaten at two, then a three-time Group winner at 3.

The outrageous rule-breakers. Like Redoute’s Choice, the only horse to win the Blue Diamond G1 a mere 7 days after winning his first start.

Then there are the pedigree defiers. Like Castelvecchio.

By one of the best Classic & weight-for-age colts seen in Australia, Dundeel, a grandson of two of the world’s most influential Classic & stamina sires, Sadler’s Wells and Zabeel.

From the good racemare St. Therese who hit her best form at three & four, and before Castelvecchio, left Group 1 winner Maid Of Heaven & Group 3 winner Mirrasalo, whose best performances were at three over 2000 and 2200 metres.

So what was Castelvecchio doing, making his debut in a Sydney 2YO 1200m race one Friday evening in January 2019?

Punters gave him a 60/1 chance of success and trainer Richard Litt and owners Ottavio & Wendy Galletta were more hopeful than confident. No-one expected him to do what he did: pick up from last, sprint through the field and burst clear to nab one of the season’s best maiden wins in 1:10.86.

Of course, Dundeel also won his 2YO debut, in April 2012, in similar fashion over the same distance – but that was his only start at two.

Castelvecchio took a completely different path. He progressed immediately to the $2 million Inglis Millennium 1200m RL at Warwick Farm where he produced a blistering finish from wide out on the turn to round up the entire field and score by two lengths.

Castelvecchio scored a sensational victory in the inaugural Inglis Millennum RL, defeating the favourites Accession & Dawn Passage by two and 2.8 lengths. (PHOTO: Bronwen Healy)

Next up on 2 March 2019 was his first try in Group company, the Skyline S. 1200m G2 at Randwick where he made up several lengths from last at the 400-metre mark to snatch third.

At just his fourth start, Castelvecchio lined up in the 1400-metre Inglis Sires’ Produce S. G1. Once again, he unleashed a ground-raking sprint to share third with the Golden Slipper winner Kiamichi, less than a length from the winner Microphone.  

Castelvecchio’s fifth and final appearance at two came a fortnight later in the Champagne S. G1. This time, on more suitable Good4 ground, he settled fifth, rounded the turn in the clear and rocketed to a 1.5 length victory, in a new record time of 1:33.31 for a 2YO over Randwick’s famous metric mile.

This three-month, five-start, $1.6 million campaign earned Castelvecchio Timeform’s top 2YO rating of 121, alongside Microphone and above the Golden Slipper winner Kiamichi, Bivouac, Yes Yes Yes & Loving Gaby.

Equally impressive is the record of his final sectionals in each of those five starts. In every single race, Castelvecchio posted the fastest last 600-metre time, and in all but the Sires’ Produce he also ran the last 200m faster than his rivals:

PERFORMANCE

TRACK CONDITION

LAST 600m
Fastest

LAST 200m
Fastest

RACE TIME

WON – Debut, 1200m

Good4

35.73

11.93

1:10.86

WON – Inglis Millennium RL, 1200m

Soft6

35.90

12.01

1:11.97

3rd – Skyline G2, 1200m

Good4

33.90

11.43

1:09.33

3rd = – Sires Produce G1, 1400m

Soft7

36.95

13.03

1:25.46

WON – Champagne G1, 1600m

Good4

34.45

12.01

1:33.31

His 2YO record alone makes Castelvecchio a top-drawer stallion prospect in a country that loves juvenile racing. But there was more to come…

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