Gr3 Winter Guineas: Castlethorpe

Castlethorpe sent out 18/10 favourite

Castlethorpe has always been well regarded by connections and posted his second win from as many outings since being gelded when he captured the Gr3 Winter Guineas over 1600m at Kenilworth (summer course) on Saturday, writes MATTHEW LIPS.

Castlethorpe had destroyed a small but decent field in a set weights race over 1400m at Durbanville in his first appearance after the snip and even a wide draw didn’t deter his supporters from sending him out as the 18/10 favourite (from an ante-post call of 3/1) for this first leg of the Cape Winter Challenge series for three-year-olds.  It wouldn’t have escaped the notice of more seasoned and astute punters that Castlethorpe’s trainer Mike Bass holds a superb record in the three races which make up this series and looked after the only horse ever to have swept all three events, a certain Pocket Power.   Nysean Bolt went off as the 4/1 second favourite in a field which was eventually reduced to 14 when Bayard refused to enter the starting stalls and was scratched, while lightly raced Lake Arthur was the 13/2 third choice of the market.

The Winter Guineas was run in good going on a splendid Cape Town autumn’s afternoon and there was no sign of the notorious Cape Crawl as Master Barry set off to ensure a decent gallop.  He showed the way ahead of Abington and Khyber Crossing, with Castlethorpe settling into an ideal spot on the fence in fourth ahead of Lake Arthur.  Abington was in the ideal position to make his move once Master Barry began to weaken in the straight, but Castlethorpe was right in his slipstream, with Lake Arthur trying to mount a bid in behind them.

Abington’s effort began to lose momentum inside the final furlong and it was left to Castlethorpe and Lake Arthur to dominate the race, but Castlethorpe looked to be travelling the stronger of the two and was shaken up by Karl Neisius to win by a length going away from Lake Arthur, who put up an excellent effort in defeat as he was starting for only the fourth time in his career and faced the winner on 5 kgs worse terms than in a handicap.  Abington finished 1.5 lengths further back in third, with Coasting Avalanche staying on for fourth but a further 2.75 lengths adrift.  Nysean Bolt could only stay on to finish a never-dangerous fifth, some 5.5 lengths behind a winner who had beaten him with similar ease at Durbanville the previous month.

The fact that Castlethorpe was able to get such a nice position from the widest draw says as much about the fair nature of the Kenilworth summer course mile and the benefits of a decent early pace as it does about anything else, but it was still an excellent ride by Karl Neisius, who boasts the sort of experience that simply cannot be bought.  The opposition may not have been top class, but the runner-up is an improving sort who easily reversed the form of his defeat by Coasting Avalanche on identical weight terms over the same course-and-distance one month earlier, while third finisher Abington ran Castlethorpe’s subsequent Gr 1 winning stable companion English Garden to half-a-length at virtual level weights over 1600m in January.

It would not be prudent, then, to try and pour cold water over this form because Castlethorpe beat the second and third horses by lesser margins than pure merit ratings in isolation suggested that he should, and it is also encouraging that he seems to show more resolution (despite the odd flash of temperament) in the business end of his races than he arguably did when he was still a colt.  He is entered for the Vodacom Durban July, and if that route is indeed chosen for him then he will be denied the opportunity of emulating Pocket Power’s clean sweep of the Winter Challenge series, but a more pressing question is how far Australian-bred Castlethorpe is likely to stay.

His sire Not A Single Doubt (by Redoute’s Choice) posted all four of his wins up to 1200m, while his dam Park Heiress (whose eleventh foal Castlethorpe is) never raced.  The five other known winners produced from Park Heiress included one who won over 3600m and a couple of others who won around 2000m, and the mare herself is by Sadler’s Wells.  Castlethorpe’s second dam Park Express stayed 2400m and won the Gr 1 Irish Champion Stakes before embarking on a stud career which saw her produce a trio of black type winners including 2008 Epsom Derby hero New Approach (by Galileo).   Another of Park Heiress’ offspring was the Japanese Gr 1 winning sprinter Shinko Forest, who only won up to 1200m, but he was by the speed sire Green Desert.

There is reason to hope that Castlethorpe will yet prove effective over distances considerably further than 1600m, but only time will tell.  He was acquired for Aus $50 000 at the 2009 Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale and has won four times from 11 starts for stakes of R272 545


Winter Guineas (SAf-G3) (4/23)
Kenilworth, South Africa, April 23, R184.000, 1600m, turf, good, 1.37.99 (CR 1.36.20).
CASTLETHORPE (AUS), 58.0, b g 3, Not A Single Doubt (AUS) – Park Heiress (IRE) by Sadler’s Wells. Owner L I Cohen, R J Bloomberg, M W Bass; breeder F Meduri (AUS); trainer M W Bass; jockey K Neisius (122.000)
Lake Arthur (SAF), 58.0, b c 3, Jet Master (SAF) – Leading Dame (SAF) by Jallad
Abington (SAF), 58.0, b g 3, Victory Moon (SAF) – Private Property (SAF) by Just Personal (AUS)
Margins: 1, 1½, 2¾
Also ran: Coasting Avalanche (SAF) 58.0, Nysean Bolt (SAF) 58.0, Mister Gone (SAF) 58.0, Lucky Moon (SAF) 58.0, Bastille Day (SAF) 58.0, Wolf On The Fold (SAF) 58.0, Master Barry (SAF) 58.0, Azeroth (SAF) 58.0, Khyber Crossing (SAF) 58.0, King’s Guard (SAF) 58.0, Peregrine Power (SAF) 58.0

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