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British Champions Series stars to stud: Caravaggio

15 Nov 2017

In the second of our new weekly series we focus on the speedy Caravaggio

Caravaggio won his first six races, including the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, before meeting with defeat. Picture:

Career details:

The fastest horse ever trained at Ballydoyle? Aidan O’Brien said so more than once – and who are we are to argue?

O’Brien reaffirmed his assertion after the colt clicked into overdrive to overhaul two other exceptionally speedy colts – Harry Angel and Blue Pointin the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in 2017.
Caravaggio was making it six wins from six starts that afternoon and it looked like he might go on to dominate the sprinting division.

However, the grey son of Scat Daddy, winner of the Coventry Stakes and Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes as a two-year-old, failed to win again at the highest level – suffering odds-on defeats in the Darley July Cup (fourth) and Prix Maurice de Gheest (sixth) before bowing out with a third in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint at Ascot.

Plausible excuses were offered each time (including him being equipped with the wrong shoes when he was beaten in France) but by the end of the campaign the dual Royal Ascot’s winner’s reputation had been slightly dented.

Caravaggio showed himself to be effective on all types of ground, won seven of his ten starts (partnered by Ryan Moore for five of those) and accumulated almost £725,000 in prize money.

He started favourite for each of his first nine races, going off at odds-on all but once. The only time he did not go off market leader was on his final start.

Career highlight:

His success in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in 2017, which was one of the most exciting races of the meeting and contributed to O’Brien achieving a world record 27 Group One wins in the year.

Caravaggio started 10-11 favourite but he was not the best away from the stalls and for much of the six-furlong contest it seemed he might have to settle for a supporting role.

He responded generously to Moore’s urgings, though, and got on top in the closing stages. At the line he had three quarters of a length in hand over Harry Angel, with Blue Point another half-length back.

What they said:

Aidan O’Brien said after Caravaggio won the Commonwealth Cup: “He is very quick, I would be happier at two furlongs than six furlongs with this fella! He is the fastest horse we have ever had.”

Previously, after his reappearance win at Naas, he had said: “Caravaggio is one of the fastest horses I have ever seen. We worked him over 7f, and the petrol gauge never shifted, but we decided to keep him to sprint distances because we didn’t want to risk his brilliance over sprint distances by extending him out to a mile when we didn’t need to.”

Where he will stand:

Caravaggio has joined Coolmore’s outstanding roster of stallions and will stand at a fee of €35,000. As a son of Scat Daddy, who died at the age of 11 in 2015, Caravaggio represents a vital outcross for the many Galileo mares on Coolmore’s books.

Scat Daddy was not an immediate success at stud and his fee decreased from $30,000 to $10,000 at one time but at the time of his death his star was in the ascendancy with Caravaggio and Lady Aurelia among those flying the flag with distinction for him. He would have commanded a fee of $100,000 in 2016.

What should we expect from his offspring?:

Speed. But that doesn’t mean all his offspring will all be out-and-out sprinters. Caravaggio hinted he would stay further than 6f – some would suggests he was even looking for extra yardage in his races – and several of Coolmore’s mares by Galileo seem certain to arrive at his door.

Galileo’s influence for stamina, mixed with the pace of Caravaggio, could yield a potent mix. A champion miler or two?

Also, look out for his offspring at Royal Ascot when the time comes. Caravaggio won twice at the meeting and Lady Aurelia, a daughter of Scat Daddy, also boasts two wins there. Caravaggio’s two-year-olds could also hit the deck running.

He was a Group 1 winner when 4-4 as a juvenile and many more of his sire’s stock were also prolific youngsters. His last batch included Sioux Nation and Mendelsson, both Group 1 winners for Aidan O’Brien in 2017.

Champions Series To Stud: The Series

1. Almanzor