Trainer Richard Litt.  Photo:

Litt living the dream with another star three-year-old

NZ Racing Desk
14 October 2021

When opportunity knocks, Richard Litt grabs it with both hands.

Over the past decade and a half, Taranaki-born Litt has worked his way up the ladder in Sydney racing from a stablehand to become the trainer of Group One-winning colts Castelvecchio and Profondo.

Three years ago he got his first big break when Sydney construction industry magnates Ottavio and Wendy Galletta entrusted him with an Arrowfield Stud-bred Dundeel colt that became one of the best of his generation.

As a two-year-old Castelvecchio won the A$2 million Inglis Millennium (1100m) and Gr. 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m), then finished second to star Japanese mare Lys Gracieux in the Gr.1 Cox Plate (2040m) before a second Group One success in the Rosehill Guineas (2000m).

Arrowfield principal John Messara bought back into the upstanding bay after the Cox Plate and he took up duties at the Hunter Valley nursery last spring.

The Gallettas had engaged again with Arrowfield when they bid A$1.9 million for the stud’s star offering as a yearling, the colt by champion Japanese stallion Deep Impact from the Group-winning Redoute’s Choice mare Honesty Prevails.

And again Litt was given the honour of training the stunning individual. As Profondo, he is now one of the breeding world’s most valuable assets after winning last Saturday’s Gr. 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at just his third start.

“Everything we achieved with Castelvecchio was a bonus,” Litt recalls. “Winning the two Group Ones and the Cox Plate placing, his whole career was incredible.

“He was a $150,000 yearling and there was no massive expectation, he just jumped out of the ground and turned out so good. Then to see him go to stud at Arrowfield, it was fantastic.”

Litt has immense respect for the judgement of Ottavio Galletta, who has enjoyed major success in both equine racing codes.

“Ottavio is an incredibly good judge,” Litt said. “Years ago he had a top pacer by the name of Don’t Retreat and he obviously saw something in Castelvecchio.”

Something else that Litt hadn’t counted on was Galletta’s determination in getting what he wants.

“Ahead of the Magic Millions Sale, I knew he was keen on Arrowfield’s Deep Impact colt, but I wasn’t under any illusion that he would actually end up with him,” Litt said.

“But what I’ve learnt is that if Ottavio wants something, he buys it.”

Galletta originally had horses with Litt’s father Jim, who was a dairy farmer-turned trainer before he made the move to Sydney.

“I grew up going to pony club then eventing and showjumping,” the younger Litt recalls. “I was always keen on the horses and when I was 16, young and enthusiastic, I decided to head to Sydney.

“My first job was with Graeme Rogerson when he had a stable in Sydney. He and Debbie were very good to me, they’re wonderful people.

“Then when they moved back to New Zealand I took a job with Bart Cummings, who was getting on at the time and had James as his partner.

“Bart was still around and his systems were all in place, so that was a valuable experience, the same with when I worked for John O’Shea.

“I talked Dad into coming over and we set up a stable at Warwick Farm, that’s when it really started to happen for me.”

The unexpected death of Litt’s older brother meant his father had to return to Hawera, which is when Litt took out his own licence. More recently he has trained from the stable established by successful trainer Clarry Conners and now owned by the Gallettas.

“There are 31 boxes here and it’s a beautiful set-up, perfect for my needs. I’ve got other clients besides Ottavio and Wendy, who actually don’t own that many horses, just five or six in the team.”

Litt discounts any suggestion that his achievements are solely down to his input.

“Obviously I’m very proud of where I’ve got to, but it’s a total team effort from everyone involved – my own staff, the breakers and pre-trainers, vets, so many people,” he said.

Profondo had four trials ahead of his first raceday start – two in the autumn and another two at the start of his current preparation – winning the last three before an auspicious debut over 1400m on the Randwick Kensington track on September 1.

He has made massive strides since, finishing a close second to Head Of State in the Gr. 3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) at Rosehill and then delivering a consummate performance in the Gr. 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick last Saturday.

“This was different to when Castelvecchio was winning his big races,” Litt said. “It was huge to see Profondo deliver like that, knowing what he’s capable of and then to actually do it.

“He’s in the paddock now, which was always the plan, and he’ll come back to prepare for races like the Randwick and Rosehill Guineas. 

“We’re not thinking so much the (ATC) Derby, but if everything went to plan the Queen Elizabeth is a race we could consider.”

Carrying the blood of not only Deep Impact and Redoute’s Choice but also the likes of A.P. Indy and Summer Squall makes Profondo a true international in pedigree terms, and Litt doesn’t dismiss the prospect of seeking racetrack form to complete the package.

“I’d love to go international with him, he’d be the ideal horse to travel. He’s incredibly intelligent, happy with his own company and you can lightly train him, he’s such a natural.”

Whatever the future holds for the 31-year-old Taranaki native, he’s unlikely to lose sight of his origins.

“I’m always in touch with home, ringing and talking. Again after Saturday I got so many messages from New Zealand and most of all from everyone back in Hawera.

“That’s great; it’s a reminder that you never forget your roots.”

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