There may be a major weight disparity between Enzo’s Lad and his rivals in the PGG Wrightson Kurow Cup (1400m) on Wednesday, but it’s the track conditions that are the biggest concern for trainers Michael and Matthew Pitman.
The Christchurch conditioners elected to bypass the Listed Hazlett Stakes (1200m) on Saturday with their charge because of the Dead6 track conditions, and they are hoping the Kurow track can improve from a similar rating before Wednesday’s race.
“He just loves rock hard tracks,” Matthew Pitman said. “We decided to bypass Dunedin because his last couple of starts haven’t been on tracks to suit and we thought he needed a confidence boosting run. “We are hoping Kurow will dry out a little bit.”
The dual Group 1 winner will carry 61kg with the assistance of apprentice jockey Kavish Chowdhoory’s one kilogram claim, and Pitman believes he will be competitive if the track improves.
“He showed last year that he can be competitive over 1400m,” Pitman said. “He has a bit of weight to carry, but he is a class horse. “If he gets a track to suit him, we expect him to be competitive. “His main aim is the Group 1 (Telegraph, 1200m) at Wellington and that is what we are building towards.”
Enzo’s Lad has a strong association with the Telegraph, having won the race in 2018 and 2019, before finishing runner-up to Avantage in this year’s edition. Pitman said the eight-year-old gelding will follow a similar lead-up over the next month.
“He will head back to Waikouaiti and get ready there,” Pitman said. “That has been the tried-and-true plan the last two years, so we will take the same path. He will use the beach and hill there to get ready and he will head up to Trentham on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the Telegraph.”
A stablemate that could join Enzo’s Lad on the float trip north next month is Group 1 Levin Classic (1600m) contender Watchmaker. The son of Pins will start in the Couplands Working Dog Handicap (1400m) on Wednesday, and Pitman said he will need to put in a good showing to warrant a trip north.
“Watchmaker is a horse we have a high opinion of,” he said. “He has shown he has a touch of class about him and he is another one potentially getting ready for another Group 1 at Wellington, in the Levin Classic. “We were happy with his run in the 2000 Guineas (Group 1, 1600m). He was a touch unlucky and ran on well to finish seventh.
“Looking at the Levin Classic, there have been a few other horses stand up in the North. But Marine and Bourbonaire have now gone out of the country, and he has shown he is not too far off them. “We think he is pretty right, but he will need to show that tomorrow to be a serious contender in a race like the Levin Classic.”
The Pitmans will have a strong representation at Kurow on Wednesday, and they have highlighted Cannoli as one of their better chances in the Rural Transport Handicap (1800m). “On her last two runs, Cannoli is knocking on the door,” Pitman said. “She should finally get that win tomorrow.”