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Castlzeberg's impressive win has him in contention for the New Zealand Derby

Castlzeberg wins the Gr 2 Waikato Guineas
Castlzeberg wins the Gr 2 Waikato Guineas

An impressive win in the recent group two H S Dyke Waikato Guineas by Castlzeberg (ex Stylish Cent) has propelled the Castledale (IRE) gelding into contention for the New Zealand Derby next month.

Castlzeberg has only raced on six occasions and the Waikato Guineas was his second win. He was soon in front in the 2000 metre event, and was tackled as they turned for home. However, he kicked clear at the 250 and went on to win easily by three and three-quarter lengths.

He won his first trial in October and commenced racing in late November and finished a close second over 1400 metres, three weeks later. He stepped up to 1600 metres and ran second again. At Ellerslie over the Christmas carnival he lined up over that distance again, only to be beaten on the line.

At start number four at Avondale in the middle of January, with the addition of blinkers, everything went his way in yet another 1600 metre maiden, he was soon in front, and was cruising with 500 to run and ran away to win by six lengths.

Former NZBA Auckland branch president Wayne Larsen, the proprietor of Te Runga Stud, bred Castlzeberg. He is the second to last foal from Stylish Cent (ex Roman Empress), a winning Stylish Century (AUS) mare, and is by Castledale who stands at Larsen's South Auckland-based stud.

He races the gelding in partnership with his good friend Bob Vance who trains him at Ardmore and he picks up the story.

According to Vance "Wayne rang me up one day and asked me to come out and look at a yearling to see if I might like him. He said if you want to train him, you take half and I'll have half, and I said ok."

"To be honest he was quite striking as a yearling, a real beauty. I knew he wouldn't be a two-year-old, he went shin sore twice, but I knew as soon as I galloped him he was something special. I only galloped him a couple of times before he won his trial, and I knew when he started racing it was only a matter of time before I would have to put blinkers on him. He's got a ton of ability and now we will push on to the Derby," enthused Vance.

Castlzeberg is undoubtedly the best horse that Larsen has raced, and also is the best that his sire Castledale has left. Castledale is an attractive well-performed son of Peintre Celebre (USA) but has had limited opportunity at stud. He has left three stakes winners in the Northern Hemisphere and down under, the stakes performers Silverdale, Miss Maximuss and Queen of the Castle.

On his dam side, Castlzeberg's mother Stylish Cent won two races over ground, but failed to leave a winner from her first four foals Following Castlzeberg she returned to Castledale and has a two-year-old colt which Larsen sold last August for $1500.

She is out of Roman Empress a Roman Empire (IRE) mare who won seven races including a Thames Cup, and is a half sister to Reiver, a group two winner of 10 races, and three other winners. They are out of the stakes placed mare Santanea (Imperial March [CAN] –Sadiq).

Stylish Cent ceased breeding after her 2010 foal and has since died.

According to Larsen Castledale served around 25 mares last season, including six of his own.

"I breed about six mares each year to him but you won't see many foals in the sales, (three sold at the Festival Sales recently for an average of $10,600) I bring them through and get them working along and sell them as racehorses. That works for me so I will continue to take them down that path."

In the meantime Larsen is quite happy to go along for the ride with Castlzeberg with Vance fully in charge. He wasn't at Te Rapa to witness the win and won't be at Ellerslie come Derby time either.

"Bobby's the trainer - he has the plan and so far I have left it all up to him and its worked out well. I am happy just to leave it all up to him and I'll watch it on the telly," he added in his usual retiring manner.


- Michelle Saba