Leading South Island trainer Matthew Pitman, who trains in partnership with his father Michael, will line-up six runners in the two stakes races at Riccarton on Saturday and he believes the stable has a solid chance of taking out the two features.
The Riccarton training partnership will line-up Group-performed mare Elfee in the Listed Daphne Memorial Great Easter Stakes (1400m), where she will be joined by in-form stablemates Dynamic and Carson River.
Both geldings head into Saturday off the back of two successive wins and Pitman is expecting a strong showing from his runners.
“They are all really well and deserve their spot in the race,” he said. “Elfee went massive last start (when finishing third fresh-up at Riverton). She is usually a horse who takes two or three runs before you see the best of her.
“Lisa Allpress stays on her and she was really happy with her last start and thinks she is a good chance, so that has got to be a good indicator.
“Dynamic, he was super impressive last start and we saw him back to his best down at Riverton. Carson River is improving all the time and is working extra well.
“We are really happy with all three horses.”
While pleased with all three runners, Pitman has highlighted Elfee as the stable’s leading chance in the 1400m feature.
“Elfee has that class about her,” he said. “She has been there and done that at that level, so you have to swing towards Elfee, but Carson River is a horse we do think a lot of and he will get to that level at some stage. He is a horse that is improving all the time.”
Meanwhile, Pitman will line-up three runners in the Listed Berkely Stud Champagne Stakes (1200m) and he believes two-win Showcasing filly All About Magic is the stable’s best chance in the race.
She will be joined by the lightly raced Clubcard and four-time placegetter Our Rosette.
“All About Magic is one that has got that experience and has looked like one of the better two-year-olds down here all season,” Pitman said.
“She was a bit green going into the stakes race (Listed Welcome Stakes, 1000m) at spring time and got beaten by some smart ones, but she has just come on in leaps and bounds since then.
“I think she is a very good chance. She is a tough and professional filly that gives it her all every time she steps out onto the track. She has got the ability to be thereabouts, so she is definitely the pick of the three.
“The other two are nice fillies. They are both on the way up and are going to be very nice three-year-olds. They are not without a chance either.”
Pitman has only just arrived back into the country after watching Enzo’s Lad compete in the Gr.1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) at Sha Tin racecourse in Hong Kong on Sunday.
The dual Group One winner tailed the field home and although disappointed with his runner’s performance, Pitman said it was a great learning experience and he is looking forward to Enzo’s Lad competing at Royal Ascot in June.
“It was an awesome experience. It’s just another level over there and it was good to gain a bit of knowledge of how you do it and to experience a big meeting like that.
“We were a bit disappointed with the horse’s run, but we just think he is not suited to that way around, he’s possibly more suited to a straight 1200m or the dog leg 1200m that you get at Riccarton or Trentham.
“James (McDonald, jockey) said that he was travelling really well over the first half of the race and then he slipped and stumbled at the 600m and didn’t get any traction around the corner. We didn’t see the best of him.
“We’ll press on to Royal Ascot. Dad is travelling over with the horse at this stage, I think he is in Qatar at the moment.
“He is going to go over and stay with Sir Mark Todd. He’ll be there for the next week and we will just work out who we send over (to look after Enzo’s Lad).” – NZ Racing Desk