MILLENNIUM fever hit Warwick Farm on Saturday as the buzz of feature racing reached the western Sydney track, with the inaugural Inglis Millennium Day attracting a large crowd of breeders, trainers and owners as well as enticing new industry participants.
It was almost two years to the day that Richard Litt prepared Klisstra to win the Braidwood Cup, when at his resettled home of Warwick Farm, the young conditioner trained Castelvecchio to win the $2 million Inglis Millennium for two-year-olds, giving him a mammoth boost.
Restricted to graduates of the Inglis Race Series, the Millennium saw Castelvecchio come from last place on the turn to power home and defeat the more fancied Chris Waller trained Accession, and Dawn Passage for the minor placings.
Belonging to the second crop of Arrowfield Stud’s gorgeous bay Dundeel, Castelvecchio cost $150,000 at last year’s Classic Yearling Sale, and is raced by Sydney construction owner Octavio Galletta and wife Wendy.
“This is unbelievable, I don’t know what to say,” Mr Litt said. “He was not a cheap horse, but now it seems he is.”
Litt indicated he would not rush the colt into the Golden Slipper, even though Castelvecchio has been entered for the $3.5m event at Rosehill next month.
The two stand-out fillies of the $1m Inglis Sprint for three-year-olds were last year’s Golden Slipper winner Estijaab and Fiesta, who fought out the finish.
Fiesta took honours, the I Am Invincible filly being a $150,000 Classic Yearling Sale graduate from Mike O’Donnell’s Fairhill Farm, Mulbring.
Noble Boy cemented his cause for favouritism in the Country Championships with a powerful win in the TAB Highway Handicap also on the program.
Trained by Queanbeyan’s Todd Blowes, Noble Boy took his unbeaten career streak to four wins when taking his second Highway Handicap.
By the Bowness Stud, Young based prolific winner-getting sire Bon Hoffa, Noble Boy was bred by Neil and Donna Smart.
Donna - of Koorawatha - a tiny hamlet between Cowra and Young, is enjoying the part-ownership of Noble Boy, along with the gelding’s trainer, his strapper Troy Tipping and Gundaroo farrier Gray Cocking.
Noble Boy defeated another Country Championships contestant Acquittal, who also won a TAB Highway Handicap at his previous start.
Trained by Danny Williams at Goulburn, Acquittal (by Widden Stud’s Nicconi) along with Noble Boy are likely to have a return clash in the South East Racing Association’s Country Championships Qualifier at Goulburn on March 2.
Meanwhile, Westlink confirmed his berth in the $500,000 Newhaven Country Championships Final at Randwick in April, after a convincing win in the Country Championships first qualifying race at Dubbo on Sunday.
Not starting since finishing third at Wellington last month, Westlink provides local conditioner Darren Hyde with his first Country Championship Final starter.
By Vinery Stud’s sire Casino Prince, Westlink has won three races and more than $130,000 in prizemoney.
Classic Yearling Sale under way
THE severity of the state’s drought was lessened for some NSW breeders with some good prices achieved at the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale at Warwick Farm this week.
One particular owner and vendor were “over the moon” after their colt fetched the top price of $400,000 after two days of selling.
The colt was by Widden Stud sire success Star Witness, from the Canny Lad mare Defrock which sold from Jilly Henderson’s Scone district farm Noogee Park, to Yuesheng Zhang’s expanding Australian investment company of Yulong.
The colt was bred and sold by Jilly, together with Sydney breeder Kate Nivison, whose well-known family from Walcha, are long time graziers and horse breeders.
The Sunday session saw an eye-catching grey yearling fetch $280,000 selling from Vinery Stud.
Produced from Dayeala (by Starcraft), the colt belongs to the last small crop by Widden Stud’s champion two-year-old and sire Stratum.
After two days of selling a total of 251 horses sold (from 323 offered) for gross sales of $19.68m, with the average sitting at $78,406.
The sale continues today with the inaugural Highway Session of 203 listed lots.