Connections of exciting Vespa three-year-old Charbano have turned down offers that have dwarfed his purchase price as they chase their shot at a Group One dream this spring.
A $16,000 two-year-old purchase from the Valachi Downs dispersal sale conducted via Gavelhouse Plus, Charbano followed a polytrack trial win with a successful debut on the same surface for Riccarton trainers Michael and Matthew Pitman earlier this month.
That has led to a start in Saturday’s Inglewood Stud Guineas Trial (1400m) at Riccarton as the Pitmans aim the youngster towards the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at the same track on November 5.
“He’s just a really smart horse. I was really confident with him going into his first race. He looked a good thing to me and he proved it,” Michael Pitman said.
“Sam Wynne rode him that day and she rides him in a lot of his work and she’s said he’s improved since that win each day but going into this race, you’d want him to.”
The Pitmans have engaged Wiremu Pinn for the ride on Saturday, with Wynne opting for Perfectly Suited, whom she rode for a fast-finishing second in the Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) at Riccarton earlier this month.
However, Pinn will have to earn his keep with Charbano starting from the outside gate in a nine-horse field on Saturday.
“He’s drawn awkwardly in barrier nine but if he’s a Guineas horse, he’ll still be hitting the line nicely,” Pitman said.
“From the barrier, he’ll have to go back and give them all a start. It’s not the be-all and end-all if he gets beaten this weekend. We’ll just need some luck from the barrier draw but I’d be disappointed if he’s not right up there at the finish.”
Pitman expects the step up to 1400m on Saturday to suit Charbano, whose half-sister She Brings Joy won a Gr.2 Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie, another factor that drew him to the youngster when he was perusing the Valachi Downs offering.
“I bought him off Gavelhouse through the Valachi dispersal and I was pretty happy to get him,” Pitman said.
“He was the only one of all the two-year-olds they were selling that had been given a name so my warped sense of intuition determined to me that they rated it.
“He had trialled up north and I spoke to Stephen Autridge about him and he said he was a dude and if he could take the next step up, he’d be a really nice horse. He’s certainly done that since he’s got here. He’s a lovely horse.
“He trialled up well and we got a significant offer after that and there’s been a bit of interest hanging around since his first-up win too but the owners were keen to race him on with a view to the 2000 Guineas. He’s still learning and on the way up.”
Safely through Saturday’s race, Charbano will tackle the Gr.3 War Decree Stakes (1200m) at Riccarton on October 22 as a final leadup to the 2000 Guineas, following the same path as Marine, who placed in all three races two years ago.
Asked to compare Charbano with Marine, Pitman said: “He’s probably faster. I don’t say he’s another Marine or anything but he’s going the right way.”
The Pitmans will also line up Tail Lights, Nakamoto, Fireglow, Savvy Man and Whale Song, though another acceptor Sharpie is a doubtful starter from a wide gate.
“Fireglow seems to be a better horse on a good track and I’m a bit concerned that they irrigated the track and we’re now getting rain. He saves his best for Riccarton,” said Pitman, who has a good opinion of Nakamoto but suggested the best of the filly would be seen in the autumn.