Welcome home Castelvecchio!

Champagne 2YO, Classic 3YO & Cox Plate runner-up Castelvecchio joins the Arrowfield roster in 2020. (PHOTO: Bronwen Healy)

The team at Arrowfield feels a special pride and excitement when a colt bred and raised on the farm returns to begin his new life as a stallion, after a brilliant racing career. 

It has happened a few times in the Stud’s 35-year history, with outstanding results.

Champion Sires Danzero and Flying Spur arrived in 1995 & 1996, leading sire Not A Single Doubt began his stud career in 2005 and much-missed Group 1 sire Beneteau retired to stud in 2011. 

Champagne 2YO, Guineas 3YO and Cox Plate runner-up Castelvecchio returns to Arrowfield with the kind of CV that gives him a great chance of matching their success.  (And he’s not the only returned graduate on the 2020 roster: he joins fellow Arrowfield alumni, the dual Group winner Pariah, Group-winning sprinter-miler Showtime and Champion 3YO Colt The Autumn Sun.)

The future Group 1-winning 2YO & 3YO as a yearling. (PHOTO: Georgie Lomax)

After St. Therese delivered her bay colt by Dundeel at Arrowfield on 5 September 2016, the note in Ardex read, “An attractive type of good size, body and bone. Overall of good conformation and a nice foal.” Coming from famously hard marker Stud Manager Matt Hill, that qualified as a big rap.

The colt’s eventual purchasers Ottavio & Wendy Galletta shared that opinion and sent him to young Warwick Farm trainer Richard Litt. Given the name of Castelvecchio, he soon displayed the ability he would apply so effectively on the racetrack. 

“It was obvious from the start he was a pure athlete, and very fast with a great turn of foot. He always did everything so easily, he was extremely enthusiastic, very, very sound and never had a backward day.”
– Castelvecchio’s trainer Richard Litt

After two trials, Castelvecchio made a spectacular debut on 18 January 2019 over 1200 metres at Canterbury where he made up several lengths in the straight to score in 1:10.86.

Twenty-two days later, he rocketed to victory from a seemingly impossible position to claim the inaugural $2 million Inglis Millennium RL on his home track. 

Owners Wendy & Ottavio Galletta celebrate Castevecchio’s sensational Inglis Millennium RL victory with the colt’s trainer Richard Litt. (PHOTO: Sportpix)

He was cheered on by a strong Arrowfield contingent including Bloodstock Manager Jon Freyer who declared, “He could be one absolutely out of the box…he’s destined for bigger things.”

Castelvecchio soon added further substance to that statement with a third at his first start in Group company, the Skyline S. G2, and posting the fastest last 600-metre time of the race, 33.90.

He did the same in the Inglis Sires’ Produce S. G1, his first try over 1400 metres, again running the fastest final 600 metres on a Soft7 track, to dead-heat for third with Golden Slipper winner Kiamichi, less than a length from the winner Microphone. 

Two weeks later Castelvecchio once again displayed his exceptional turn of foot to sweep past the high-class filly Loving Gaby and win the Champagne S. G1 in 1:33.31. That’s a race record and the fastest 1600 metres ever run by a 2YO at Randwick. 

Castelvecchio takes control of the 2019 Champagne S. G1, defeating subsequent dual Group 1-winning sprinter Loving Gaby. (PHOTO: Bronwen Healy)

At season-end Castelvecchio was rated Timeform’s co-Champion 2YO with a figure of 121 shared by Microphone, and ahead of Kiamichi (118+), Bivouac (116+) and Yes Yes Yes (116).

Despite the high value placed on juvenile performance by Australian breeders, we like to see our stallion prospects train on at three. It’s a test that Castelvecchio met with three top-drawer efforts in both 3YO Classic and Group 1 weight-for-age company. 

His second to Shadow Hero in the Spring Champion S. G1, run in 2:00.79 for the 2000 metres, was full of merit, but it was the final start of his Spring 3YO campaign that truly measured the depth of Castelvecchio’s class. 

That was the 2019 W.S. Cox Plate G1 at Moonee Valley, where he was the only 3YO up against a dozen other global Group 1 winners. Positioned by Craig Williams close to the speed, Castelvecchio drove forward round the home turn, and after that, only Japan’s subsequent Horse of the Year Lys Gracieux, right at the top of her game, could get past him.

Castelvecchio (green cap) leads the 2019 Cox Plate G1 field into the straight, as Lys Gracieux (red cap) winds up for a big finish. (PHOTO: Bronwen Healy)

It was a stunning performance that earned the colt a year-end international rating of 120 – the same figure awarded to Champion 3YO Colt The Autumn Sun in 2018 – and a new Timeform rating of 124. At that point Arrowfield announced its intention to acquire a controlling interest in the colt, who continued to race in the Gallettas’ colours.

From a rider’s perspective, Castelvecchio had all the attributes to allow him to perform consistently at the elite level. He had a great attitude and an explosive acceleration to match his will to win!
– Champion jockey Craig Williams

Castelvecchio returned in the Autumn of 2020 in search of a Classic victory  which came in the Rosehill Guineas G1 on Golden Slipper day. On Soft 5 ground, the best he encountered during that campaign, he began with alacrity and settled just behind the early leaders.

Ridden with great confidence by Williams, Castelvecchio took the lead just after the 400-metre mark and was simply too fast and too strong for his rivals. Yet again, he cut out the closing 600 metres in the fastest time of the race, 34.46.

He retires to stud with earnings of $2.9 million from four wins at 1200m, 1600m & 2000m and 4 placings in a career of 13 starts, eight of them at Group 1 level. 

And all of that is why John Messara describes Castelvecchio as “a horse we simply had to have.” 

Learn more about Castelvecchio here.

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