IN Our Horses
Castletown: A Derby Champion
Champion stayer Castletown is the only New Zealand Derby winner in the modern era to go on to win either the Wellington Cup or Auckland Cup.
Tim Barton for LOVERACING.NZ | March 03, 2022
Castletown winning the 1989 Derby by 2.25 lengths. Photo: Race Images

Champion stayer Castletown is the only New Zealand Derby winner in the modern era to go on to win either the Wellington Cup or Auckland Cup.

Castletown’s extraordinary record over 3200m has meant that his Derby triumph tends to be overlooked.

He was a high class three-year-old, winning the 1989 Derby by 2.25 lengths and recording two wins and 13 placings from 19 starts at three. He was beaten a nose in the Group I weight-for-age New Zealand Stakes at Ellerslie and ran third in the $1 million DB Classic, behind Horlicks and The Phantom.

He also ran third in the Two Thousand Guineas at Riccarton and capped a busy three-year-season with four Group I placings in Australia. He ran third in the Queensland Derby and fourth in the Canterbury Guineas, Rosehill Guineas and AJC Derby and was placed in the Grp II Queensland Guineas.

His weight-for-age wins as an older horse included the Group I Caulfield Stakes in Melbourne and the Group I Kelt Stakes at Hastings and three wins in the Trentham Stakes.

However, the NZ Racing Hall of Fame inductee was better known for his feats at 3200m, with his three Wellington Cup wins and an Auckland Cup triumph backed up by placings in the Melbourne Cup, Sydney Cup (twice) and NZ Cup.

Castletown had 15 starts at 3200m and carried at least 57kg in all bar his first three attempts. He gave 7.5kg to winner Eagle Eye when third in the Sydney Cup and was giving 4kg to both Subzero and Veandercross when they beat him in the 1992 Melbourne Cup.

He carried 55kg in his first Wellington Cup win and 58kg in the next two.

Castletown was trained at Foxton by Paddy Busuttin, who later had successful stints in Macau and Singapore. Busuttin is now training a small team at Deagon, near Brisbane, in and had a winner two starts back.

Another who was inspired by Castletown’s feats was Busuttin’s son, Trent, who, after beginning his training career at Cambridge, now runs a successful stable in Victoria, in partnership with Natalie Young. The stable was in the limelight last weekend when Sierra Sue won the Group I Futurity at Caulfield.

Castletown, who had 106 starts, enjoyed a long retirement, being he died in 2017, aged 31.

Bruce Compton rode Castletown in his Derby triumph but Noel Harris is the jockey who is chiefly associated with Castletown.

Harris rode Castletown for the first time in the horse's final start as a three-year-old. Castletown had another 80 starts, spread over five seasons, and Harris was the rider in 72 of those races.

It was a partnership that produced 11 wins and 15 placings, including all his 3200m wins. There were some less productive times late in the horse’s career but Harris stuck with Castletown for better and for worse. Castletown's last 28 starts produced just one win and three minor placings but Harris stayed loyal to the end, riding the horse in all bar one of those starts.

Castletown Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby Bruce Compton Noel Harris Paddy Busuttin