Castelvecchio gave notice of his talent when he came from last for a remarkable win at Canterbury on a Friday night on debut and then took the Inglis Millenium.
Litt knew he had a good horse but didn’t know if he was a group 1 horse. He ran third behind Microphone in the Skyline Stakes and Sires’ Produce Stakes, but there was always the feeling that the mile is where he would be at his best, and he was.
The noted backmarker was able to settle midfield in a franticly run Champagne, and at the top of the straight he was still on the bridle as others were feeling the pinch.
Castelvecchio ($3) accelerated and went away from rivals to score by 1½ length from favourite Loving Gaby ($2.70) with Lady Lupino ($12), which had set the record speed, another three-quarters of a length back in third.
The Dundeel colt stopped the clock in 1.33.31, just over half second outside Hartnell’s course record, and more than a second faster than any two-year-old had run the Randwick mile.
“I knew at the top of the straight he was going to win. I wasn’t being too confident,” Litt said.
“I think he just peaked a little bit on his run in the Sires, and obviously two weeks later he is fit. He blew them away.”
He become Dundeel’s third group 1 winner in just two seasons from 58 runners.
Castelvecchio can be a handful at the races but Litt managed him in the stalls and when jockey Josh Parr saw him he knew that it was the day.
“Once I saw him and sat on his back, I knew it was game on,” Parr said. “He was so relaxed. Before the Sires he got quite upbeat and reared up behind the barriers. He did all the wrong things.
“He was the ultimate professional today.”
Parr was able to sit closer and just had to count the sections behind letting him go.
“I didn’t want to be giving up a ridiculous margin because I knew Loving Gaby would be right up on speed, as she was,” he said. “The writing has been on the wall for some time that the Champagne Stakes was his mark, the 1600m at Randwick.
“The fact he took up the midfield position and still travelled as well as he ever has in his life is a testament of what is to come.”
Loving Gaby was again brave has she added another group 1 second to her resume, but it was the effort of tearaway Lady Lupino that also impressed.
“It’s just a shame she probably doesn’t settle a touch better in the middles stages, but once she learns to do that, she’s going to be a serious horse,” said jockey Damian Lane, who had to be stood down after the race.
Racing writer for The Sydney Morning Herald