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Horse Racing: James Cummings trainer Avilius will jump from Barrier seven in Saturday's Cox Plate. The horse was cleared to race after training on Tuesday morning.
Castelvecchio with trainer Richard Litt. Picture: AAPSource:AAP
Warwick Farm trainer Richard Litt already has his “life-changing” horse, but victory in Saturday’s $5 million Cox Plate with talented three-year-old Castelvecchio would almost certainly take him to another stratosphere.
Litt, 30, has only been training for three years and can barely believe he will take on some of the world’s best trainers in Australasia’s weight-for-age classic.
But while he is nervous, his faith in his colt hasn’t wavered, saying he is confident his horse can run the race of its life when taking on the older holders.
“It would be massive for a small stable like ours,” Litt said when asked to consider what a Cox Plate win would potentially mean for him. “I’ve only been training three years, so to even have a Cox Plate runner is huge.”
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Trainer Richard Litt will chase his biggest win in racing with Castelvecchio in the Cox Plate. Picture: AAPSource:AAP
A former Kiwi, who spent time working with Bart Cummings, John O’Shea and Graeme Rogerson, Litt always wanted to follow his father into trainer ranks and Castelvecchio has given him an ideal launching pad for his business.
He bought the son of Dundeel for owner Ottavio Galletta at last year’s Inglis Classic Sales for $150,000.
Castelvecchio has now won $1,814,750, including success in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes in the autumn, and with the prospect of an even bigger pay day on Saturday.
“He never showed a zac early on, but he put the writing on the wall in his first start (winning at Canterbury in January) and he went on to win the (Inglis) Millennium and the Champagne.”
The horse was elevated into the race by the Moonee Valley committee on Tuesday morning, in the belief that the strong three-year-old form already this season can be carried into the Cox Plate.
Another three-year-old, Chris Waller’s Yes Yes Yes, beat the best sprinters in Australia last weekend to win The Everest at Randwick.
“He deserves his spot,” Litt said of Castelvecchio. “The three-year-olds are flying this year.”
Castelvecchio shot to prominence with his fast-finishing win in the Inglis Millennium at Warwick Farm in February. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“He (Castelvecchio) wasn’t that far off Yes Yes Yes (when seventh in the Bivouac’s Golden Rose), and he’s just won The Everest.
“Our horse is in great order and he flew around The Valley (on Tuesday morning).
“Craig (Williams) is really happy with him and he gets in with a nice weight. We’re really hopeful he can run well.”
Castelvecchio is rated a $7 Cox Plate chance with TAB.
Moore hoping to weave some Magic
As a renowned student of international formlines, Ryan Moore rates Cox Plate favourite Lys Gracieux the logical pick to succeed Winx as The Valley’s weight-for-age championship.
But the Englishman is not prepared to submit – yet – as he chases a second Cox Plate victory on Magic Wand after triumphing on Aidan O’Brien’s Adelaide in 2014.
While Moore struggles “to remember five years ago” when he piloted Adelaide to a famous victory, he is excited about teaming with Magic Wand on Saturday.
“It’s a long time ago (since Adelaide won) but I’m very much looking forward to riding Magic Wand on Saturday,” he said. “It’s a very historical race and it’s one of the most important middle-distance races around the world.”
Ryan Moore put Cox Plate contender Magic Wand through her paces at Werribee on Wednesday. Picture: AAPSource:AAP
Magic Wand caught the eye at Werribee’s quarantine station when she gave stablemate Hunting Horn a start and finished on terms.
“I don’t have any serious questions about her,” Moore said before conceding Japan’s Lys Gracieux is the horse to beat. “She has run some very good races behind some of the best horses like Magical in Ireland and Bricks And Mortar in the Arlington Million.
“But the Japanese mare is possibly a little bit above them all, but she (Magic Wand) has drawn nicely and hopefully she can run well.”
Magic Wand and Lys Gracieux will be joined in the Cox Plate by fellow internationals Kluger and Danceteria.