Express Coup leads stakes charge

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  • March 02, 2023
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Express Coup has been given the nod as Michael and Matthew Pitman’s best hope of success in Saturday’s age group feature at Wingatui.

The daughter of Shamexpress will run as the top seed for the father and son combination in the Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Insurance Stakes (1400m), in which stablemates Third Decree, Abit Sassy and Kindred Spirit will also take their chances.

For the senior member of the training partnership, another return to Wingatui will be a reminder of a frightening incident on the way home after the Boxing Day meeting when his truck rolled as he was pulling over to let another vehicle pass.

Fortunately, Pitman, a passenger and the seven horses all escaped without serious injury.

“I lost the back end and ended up off the road. I’ve been driving trucks for 40 or 45 years and it’s the only accident I’ve ever had and touch wood the only one I will ever have,” he said.

Pitman will be back on the road from his Riccarton base on Friday with his team for the NZB Breeders’ Day and a strong hand in the main event on the card.

To be ridden by Tegan Newman, Express Coup posted her maiden success at Kurow two runs back and has yet to miss a top four finish from six appearances.

“She’s a grouse filly and does everything right. She gets herself handy and always tries really hard,” Pitman said.

When pressed, he suggested she may be the stable’s best chance of success.

“I’d probably go for Express Coup, she’s just so genuine and she’s got the experience,” Pitman said.

“If you look at her last start, it was a freakish performance from one of our other horses to beat her. Zoulander missed the start by five lengths and won easily.”

Third Decree was unplaced on debut and has quickly bounced back to post consecutive victories in the hands of Kylie Williams, who will again partner the daughter of War Decree.

“She’s a lovely filly and showed something right from the word go,” Pitman said.

“We were going to race her at Riccarton the other day, but the track was too heavy so we decided to wait for this one.

“She’s a lovely-sized filly with plenty of gate speed, which is always a big help.”

Ghibellines three-year-old Abit Sassy, the mount of Diego Montes de Oca, is another who has been patiently handled.

She has won once from five appearances and also has a black type placing to her credit.

“She has got plenty of ability and was a bit unlucky when she was third in the Gore Guineas (Listed, 1335m),” Pitman said.

“At her next start she didn’t quite get the rub of the green so we’ve added blinkers to get her up and running a bit more.”

The stable’s representation is completed by Kindred Spirit, who is a winner and finished fifth in the Gore Guineas with the El Doute three-year-old to be partnered by Gosen Jogoo.

“She’s fit and well and worked super on Tuesday and she has drawn well so we’ll see what happens,” Pitman said.

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