Dundeel's Castelvecchio Dominates in Champagne Stakes
Mark Smith - Saturday April 20

After Group 1 winners in New Zealand and South Africa, Dundeel put one on the board in Australia when Castelvecchio proved a class above in Saturday's Group 1 Moet & Chandon Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Randwick.

Arrowfield Stud principal John Messara was standing alongside Castelvecchio's owner Ottavio Galletta in the run and was cheering every bit as hard, which might indicate that Dundeel will have a sizeable increase in his service fee this year.

Ridden by Josh Parr, Castelvecchio travelled sweetly midfield as Lady Lupino and the favourite Loving Gaby set the tempo.

When Parr pressed the button he received an instant response, as the son of Dundeel quickly hauled in Loving Gaby (I Am Invincible) to win by a length and a half with the royally-bred Sebring filly Lady Lupino sticking to her guns to finish three-quarter of a length back in third. (Images Steve Hart). 

Winning trainer Richard Litt was overjoyed to win his first race at the highest level.

"It's huge, it's a feeling I've never had and I'm just delighted," Litt enthused.

"He's had a faultless preparation. We haven't had any hiccups.

"We would have loved to have won the (Group 1 ATC) Sires but that didn't happen and coming two weeks into this we had great confidence he would run well.

"There was never a moment doubted ourselves. We've gone straight on and done our job.

"He'll improve out of sight as a three-year-old. He has a lot of maturing to do. He's only a small horse. He'll go to Hanover Lodge and come back bigger and stronger."

The Champagne Stakes has been a good race for Parr whose first Group 1 win came when Skilled won the race in 2010.

"I'm thrilled. Right now I'm really buzzing," Parr said.

"The writing has been on the wall for some time - the Champagne Stakes was his mark, the 1600m at Randwick.

"There is still a lot there. He's only just learning his craft now. Today he was able to jump into a midfield position, travel like the winner the entire way and won like a very good horse.

"Full credit to Richie (Litt). What a great man he is. The job he has done with this horse has been remarkable. We had that period where he had the six-week break between the Skyline and the Sires. He has been able to keep him up and have him peak on the day."

After an impressive winning debut in a Canterbury maiden over 1200 metres on January 18, the son of Dundeel came with a barnstorming finish to win the inaugural running of the $2 million Inglis Millennium (1200m) at Warwick Farm.

At his next start in the Group II Skyline Stakes at Randwick, Castelvecchio got a long way out of his ground but was doing his best work late when third behind Microphone and Cosmic Force.

Microphone was too good for him again in the Group I Inglis ATC Sire's Produce Stakes at Randwick when beaten less than a length into third with Loving Gaby splitting the pair.

Purchased by Ottavio Galletta of Galletta Constructions for $150,000 out of the Arrowfield Stud draft at the 2018 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale, Castelvecchio advances his record to 3 wins and 2 thirds from 5 starts with earnings of $1,608,000

He is the 11thfoal of the 21yo Dehere (USA) mare St Therese and is a year younger to the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes winner Besides Maid Of Heaven (Smart Missile) and is also a half-brother to the Group III winning Redoute's Choice mare Mirrasalo who was a $700,000 purchase at the 2008 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale.

Two unraced daughters of St Therese, Precious Moment (Charge Forward and Little Flower (Redoute's Choice) have produced the stakes-winners Precious Memories (Stratum) and Hussy By Choice (Hussonet) respectively.

Find more about the family (here).

St Therese's 12th foal is a yearling colt by Panzer Division and she was bred back to that stallion last spring after missing to Scissor Kick in 2017.

Castelvecchio becomes the seventh stakes-winner and third Group 1 winner for High Chaparral's 6-time Group 1 winner Dundeel.