Pitmans strong backers of lucrative local meeting

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  • May 19, 2023
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Local trainers Michael and Matthew Pitman will be represented in good numbers at the Riccarton synthetic meeting on Thursday.

The father and son training combination accepted with 15 runners for the lucrative polytrack meeting — which features a pair of $35,000 open handicaps in addition to a number of $30,000 races.

Punters would be well-advised to take note of the in-form stable, which has sent out nine winners in the last four weeks.

Michael Pitman said he expected to have a number of runners on the surface, with decent prizemoney races regularly programmed at the track.

“All of the trainers around here have responded to the polytrack, especially at this time of the year,” he said.

“Maybe not so much October through to March, but certainly at this time of year the track is good. There are plenty of horses that win races on the polytrack that have never stepped foot on it before. It is a good surface and that is why it cost so much money.”

Impressive last-start winner Fireglow steps up in grade when contesting the Book A Suite Mid-Winter Xmas Races 24 June Open Handicap (1600m).

“I think he is back to what he was. He ran in the Guineas as a three-year-old and looked very promising. He seemed to go off a bit, but I think it was when he was growing,” Pitman said.

“He was super impressive last start. He just kept up a strong gallop from a wide draw all the way. It is a big jump from Rating 65 to open company but we are expecting a good run because we think the horse is getting back to what he promised.

“Prior to his win at Timaru he kept striking a number of wet tracks and he is not a wet tracker, but he should enjoy the polytrack.”

Wiremu Pinn was keen to continue his association with four-year-old gelding Proserve in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Earlybird Registrations Closing 31 May (2200m).

The talented rider was on board when the son of Proisir came from last to score on a Soft6 on the turf track at Riccarton last time and is booked for a number of the Pitman rides again on Thursday.

“Proserve is a bloody good wet tracker,” Pitman said.

“He was super impressive coming from last at his most recent start. He looks a dour staying horse in the making and the step up to 2200m should suit him.”

Pitman also has a big opinion of stablemate Star Ballot, who contests the same race and is also a last-start winner, with Kavish Chowdhoory to take the mount.

“He is possibly the most promising horse I have got,” Pitman said. “He has only had two starts beyond 1600m and won them both including a race during the Cup Carnival, where he beat a very good field that day.

“He defied the pattern to win the other day at Timaru.”

The perennial Champion South Island trainer, who is one win behind Christchurch rival Andrew Carston, also nominated maiden galloper Tail Lights as one of his better chances on the day.

While the stable is in good form at present, it hasn’t all been plain sailing, with Pitman admitting a truck crash driving home on State Highway 1 from the Wingatui Boxing Day Races had proved quite a setback.

“When we had the accident where I wrote my truck off, we had seven horses in it and some of them were my best horses,” he said.

“They are just coming back to it now. They might have won 10 races between them in that time.

“It knocked my confidence around a fair bit too. I was driving the truck and we had the seven horses stuck in the float for two and a-half hours.

“Thankfully all bar one of them has come back racing and the other one is due to come in at the end of the month after a good spell.”

68-year-old Pitman is only 43 wins off 2000 career wins and next season could potentially be his final season of training, with Matthew to take the helm in a solo capacity.

“I promised Matthew when we went into partnership that the season I train 2000 wins I will finish,” he said.

“I have kept impeccable records and I have now won 1,957 races in New Zealand. I am second to Graeme Rogerson and I will never ever beat Rogie.

“I have ambitions to take golf and racing tours to the best racing in the world, that is my aim. I’d love to take a tour to Royal Ascot and take a group to Singapore and show them what I have seen.”

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