Michael and Matthew Pitman are set for a busy Saturday, with 11 runners at their local Riccarton meeting while Enzo’s Lad tackles a star-studded field in the Group 1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa. A two-time winner of the Group 1 Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham, Enzo’s Lad ran another mighty race in the sprint feature last month for a close second to Avantage. He backed up a week later in the Listed Timaru Stakes (1400m) at Riccarton, where he made up ground late in the race to finish fourth.
That was only his second start over a distance further than 1200 metres – the other was in the Listed Gore Guineas (1335m) as a three-year-old, where he finished seventh. “We were really happy with that run at Riccarton the other day,” Matthew Pitman said. “He probably just got a spot or two further back than we’d planned, but he found the line really well and was the only horse running on from the back in that race. “He seems to be right back to his best now. He’s thriving. After he came back from England, he kept his winter coat until well into the spring. But that’s turned now and we’re really happy with where he’s at.”
Enzo’s Lad will be ridden by Michael Coleman on Saturday and will jump from the outside barrier. He is a $51 outsider in a field headed by Te Akau Shark at $1.70. “We’re going into the race with a bit of confidence,” Pitman said. “Obviously he’s up against an extremely strong field, and we’ve picked up the visitor’s draw, which is going to make it even harder. But as far as the horse is concerned, we’re very happy.”
Meanwhile, the Pitmans’ Riccarton team is headed by the quality performer Sensei in the NZB South Island Sale 17 April Open Handicap (1000m). The son of Dream Ahead won the the Listed Pegasus Stakes (1000m) at Riccarton in November, then picked up placings in the Group 3 Stewards’ Stakes (1200m) and Listed Hazlett Stakes (1200m).
His last start was in the Telegraph, where he began awkwardly, was checked around halfway and finished near the tail of the field. “He’s another one we’re really happy with,” Pitman said. “The Telegraph was a roughly run race and nothing really went right for him. He was stuck last on the rail, running up their arses, and almost went down on his nose at one point. “He actually ran the fifth-fastest last 600 metres of the race, but he still only beat a couple home. “He seems to have thrived since he got back from Wellington. His work’s been really good. He should get the firm track conditions that he likes this weekend, and Kavish Chowdhoory will claim two kilograms off. If he’s anywhere near his best, he’ll probably be too good for them.”
The father-son training partnership have no firm plans for their talented entire. “We’re just taking it race by race at the moment,” Pitman said. “He’s a stallion, so we’d love to pick up a Group 1 with him at some stage. He hasn’t had the best luck in those races so far. We definitely believe he’s good enough to win one, so that’s the goal. We’ll just have to pick and choose and find the right race to try to do it in.”
In the day’s other open handicap, the Koru Care Charity Dinner 20 March (1800m), the stable will be represented by the capable mare Pinup Coup. The five-year-old daughter of Pins has recorded strong placings in her last two appearances. “She doesn’t look far away from a win,” Pitman said. “Her run at Riccarton the other day was really good, she finished it off very nicely. I think the step up to 1800 metres should suit her at this point of her preparation. “With Who Dares Wins in this field, she gets in with only 54 kilograms and should be a really good chance.”
Pitman identified consistent placegetter Highly Unlikely and the promising mare Meara Mary as the team’s other bright prospects on Saturday’s Riccarton programme. “Highly Unlikely always tries his best and has to be a really good each-way chance again,” he said. “Meara Mary is a horse we’ve always had a high opinion of, and we ran her in the Breeders’ Stakes in the spring. She should be right in contention this weekend in a Rating 82.”